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School, local government budget bills headed to Whitmer

Max Johnston

Michigan’s K-through-12 schools can expect a significant funding boost under a budget bill finalized Wednesday by the Legislature and sent to Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Senator Jim Stamas (R-Midland) chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee. He says the budget promises $8,700 per-pupil in state assistance to every school in Michigan.

“Finally finishing that and getting that done to me is a huge step forward for Michigan families and especially our kids so I was very pleased,” he said. “That was probably my number one priority, so I’m especially pleased with that.”

Stamas says that’s an important step toward fairness. He also says that level of funding will help schools with return-to-class plans following COVID-19 shutdowns.

Democrats and Republicans cheered the bipartisan consensus, but this also leaves most of the budget unfinished as lawmakers begin a two-week recess.

“I think that this was a good bipartisan win for the Senate, the House, and for the governor,” said Senator Curtis Hertel (D-East Lansing), “and so I think we should be focused on the positive while there is still a lot of work to be done on the budget.”

Hertel is the senior Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The Legislature is now on a two-week recess with a to-do list upon its return that includes finishing budgets for revenue sharing with local governments, public health, community colleges and state universities. The state’s fiscal year begins October 1st, even though local governments, colleges and universities have budget years that begin July 1st.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement released by her office that she will sign the bill, but dropped no hints on possible line-item vetoes. She also urged the Legislature to act quickly on the rest of the budget:

“Unfortunately, the Legislature adjourned without getting the job done and passing a full budget – missing their July 1 deadline,” she said. “We need to appropriate the $10 million in disaster aid for areas impacted by last weekend’s historic flooding. I am hopeful that the Legislature will work quickly to approve a state budget that supports small businesses, fixes our crumbling roads and bridges, expands access to childcare and grows our economy.”

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.