Today is the last day of the current fiscal year. Tomorrow starts an entirely new year, and the budget for that year, Fiscal 2021, has been signed into law by the governor in the 11th hour.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed her second budget into law, ensuring that Michigan has its spending plan in place prior to the start of the new fiscal year of October 1st. She says that the budget delivers on many of her signature priorities, including the Michigan Reconnect program for a tuition-free pathway for adults, funding for the Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies program to ensure women have the care they need for a healthy pregnancy, and expanding access to childcare for families.
Gov. Whitmer says, “While this budget faced many challenges along the way amidst a global pandemic, I am pleased that we were able to come together and produce a budget that funds the programs and services that matter most to our residents,” and adds, “This has not been easy, but in the end the executive and legislative branches of government worked together to do what is expected and demanded of us and we now have a budget that will serve Michigan well.”
The budget protects schools, colleges, universities, and local governments from any state funding reductions below their original 2020 funding levels. The budget also includes new education investments focused on providing students, teachers, and adults across Michigan with needed resources, including:
- $161 million in flexible per pupil spending to help districts address the increased costs of educating students in the midst of a pandemic.
- $30 million for the Michigan Reconnect program to provide a tuition-free pathway for adults looking to upskill and earn a post-secondary certificate or associate degree. Implementing Reconnect will help close the skills gap and move the state closer to reaching 60-percent post-secondary educational attainment by 2030.
- $5.6 million for mental health counselors to assist children in schools across Michigan with mental health needs.
- $5 million in incentives to attract and retain first-year teachers in districts across Michigan.
- An increase of $5.7 million to continue to fund literacy coaches and expand resources to improve training for other educators in best practices of literacy learning.
- $2 million in additional supports to assist vulnerable students who are learning remotely, including special education students, students who are chronically absent, and children in need of childcare while their parents are working.
- $2 million for Detroit Public TV to foster early childhood initiatives to enhance learning and early education.
- Implementation of previously announced teacher hazard payments of up to $500 per teacher, along with the addition of payments of up to $250 for school support staff.
- $1 million for school meal debt forgiveness.
Sandy K. Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber, says, “For Michigan to succeed in the global race for talent, we need effective tools that help our citizens get the skills the 21st century economy demands,” and adds, “I could not be more pleased that Governor Whitmer and the Legislature have prioritized the Michigan Reconnect program in this difficult budget year. It is a proven model to help adults in the workforce achieve their next level of skill development and professional success that also strengthens the talent pipeline for employers.”
When it comes to budget priorities for the health of families across Michigan, the budget includes:
- $12.6 million for the Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies program to ensure women are given the care they need to have a healthy pregnancy and to expand support for interventions that are proven to improve outcomes.
- $26 million to expand access to childcare for families by increasing the income limit from 130% to 150% of the federal poverty level, expanding childcare services to nearly 6,000 children.
- $135 million to extend the $2.00/hour wage increase for direct care workers assisting the elderly and other vulnerable individuals during this especially difficult time.
- $20 million in additional support for nursing homes for COVID-19-related cost increases.
- $20 million to support the state’s psychiatric hospitals so that Michiganders in need of mental health services have improved access and care.
- $2 million for the Lead Poisoning Prevention Fund to protect Michigan families from lead in their homes.
- $10 million to implement foster care policies to keep more children with families rather than entering congregate care.
- $2.5 million to provide first responders with the mental health services they need, including treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.
Dr. Renay Gagleard, Board Chair for the Michigan Council for Maternal and Child Health, says, “We are incredibly grateful to Governor Whitmer and the Legislature for making investments in strategies proven to reduce racial disparities in infant and maternal outcomes,” and adds, “Extending coverage in the postpartum period will undoubtedly save lives. One in three pregnancy-related deaths occur in the postpartum period, and it’s a critical time for providers to identify mothers who may need help with postpartum depression or to continue treatment for a substance use disorder. This continuity of care will help ensure more babies aren’t left to start their lives without their mother.”
The 2021 budget includes critical funding for programs within the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, including $100 million for business attraction efforts. A total of $28.7 million is provided for the Going PRO program to support job training grants to businesses to support training for current and new employees in high-demand, skilled trades industries. In addition, new funding of $3 million is provided for a statewide pre-apprenticeship program with the goal of developing qualified candidates for building trades apprenticeships in the construction industry. Funding for the popular Pure Michigan campaign is set at $15 million.
LEO Director Jeff Donofrio says, “Increasing access to education beyond high school and enhancing training opportunities for high-demand careers is fundamental to achieving higher income and a healthy economy.” Donofrio adds, “We are thankful to Governor Whitmer and the Legislature for funding initiatives like Michigan Reconnect and Going PRO which provide tuition-free pathways to degree programs and help businesses fill their talent needs. These new educational and training resources, coupled with our expanded business attraction efforts will make the state’s economy more competitive and create real opportunity for Michiganders.”
The budget also provides funding for critical initiatives directed at the environment, including $5 million that draws down significantly more in federal funding for the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program to reduce runoff of contaminants into Lake Erie and other watersheds. The budget also adds $1 million to Michigan Saves to help Michigan families make energy efficiency improvements to their homes.
State Budget Director Chris Kolb says, “By working in collaboration we have put together a balanced budget that is good for Michigan and I am sincerely appreciative of the partnership that occurred with Senator Jim Stamas and Rep. Shane Hernandez at the appropriations level, and I’d also like to thank my staff within the budget office for their many long work days and extra hours.” He notes, “In these most challenging times, we were able to join forces to invest in our state’s greatest needs by prioritizing education, public health and safety while investing in our infrastructure, businesses and the employees that work there.”
A total of $4.2 million is provided to begin implementing the pre-trial incarceration task force recommendation for crisis intervention and de-escalation training through the Michigan Coalition on Law Enforcement Standards, helping ensure law enforcement officers have the training and education they need to intervene successfully. The budget includes $7 million to increase the number of troopers within the Michigan State Police.
The budget also includes $14.3 million in broadband funding to help expand internet access across the state which is more important than ever to Michiganders relying on telework, telehealth, and virtual learning.
See below for links to the Governor’s transmittal letters on HB 5396 and SB 927: