Whitmer calls for public safety, education funding boosts in budget plan
Governor Gretchen Whitmer formally rolled out her budget proposal Tuesday for the coming fiscal year. The discretionary spending budget totals $33.3 billion, including more money for public safety, housing and education.
The Democratic governor said the focus is affordable housing, an education system that will guarantee free schooling stretching from pre-K through two years of community college, and attracting employers looking for skilled, educated workers.
“The skills of our workforce is the very first question that anyone asks. Much, much more important than anything else they raise,” Whitmer said.
The governor said her budget would help keep young people in Michigan, attract families, and reverse the state's population decline.
“We’ve got your back to live the classic Michigan story,” she said.
The $33.3 billion is her proposal for spending from the General Fund and the School Aid Fund. The governor and the Legislature have wide latitude to determine how to spend those on schools, colleges and universities, health services, environmental protection, and law enforcement.
The budget proposal includes money to recruit and train more state and local first responders, as well as to fund intervention services intended to reduce gun violence.
When other revenue statutorily committed to things like roads and state payments to local governments is rolled in, the total budget adds up to $80.7 billion.
The budget now goes to the Legislature, which is controlled by Democrats. But it will take some Republican support to get it all done before the state’s new fiscal year begins October First.
“There’s certainly a lot of spending there and things we should be very careful on, but also, it’s not all bad,” said Senator John Damoose (R-Harbor Springs), who sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee. “There’s a lot of things it seems the governor has taken into account. There’s some things that are really important to our district. Like housing is a big deal. We all want good education.”
Other Republicans were not so generous.
“She’s mortgaging Michigan’s future to roll out irresponsible programs that we simply can’t sustain,” said Representative Andrew Fink (R-Adams Township).
Budget bills sponsored by Democratic lawmakers representing the governor’s plans will be formally introduced soon for the Legislature to consider. Republicans may offer their own bills, as well. They are obligated under the Michigan Constitution to adopt a balanced budget before the beginning of the new fiscal year.