State Rep. Rodney Wakeman this morning voted for a state budget plan that prioritizes the everyday needs of students, families and communities while leaving room for billions of dollars in potential tax relief to help address inflation.
Wakeman, of Frankenmuth, said the plan approved by the Legislature continues the trend of increased investment in education, economic development, and other essential services like infrastructure – while paying off more long-term debt, providing financial flexibility moving forward, and leaving room for the tax relief Michigan families desperately need.
“Investing in our students, roads and communities continues to be a priority for the people I serve – and those priorities are well reflected in this budget,” Wakeman said. “Fiscal responsibility is also paramount. As the ever-rising prices at the gas station and grocery store hammer the budgets of Michigan families, it would be wrong for the state to go on an unsustainable spending spree with their hard-earned tax dollars. This budget leaves billions of dollars unspent, so my colleagues and I can keep fighting to lower taxes and return more money to Michigan taxpayers.”
Highlights of the state budget plan approved today include:
- Supporting students: The school aid budget allocates a record $19.6 billion to support education for Michigan students. After last year’s budget provided schools with equal per-pupil foundation allowance funding for the first time, the new plan increases the amount of each grant from $8,700 per student to $9,150. Increased investments will support special education, bringing the total to $1.92 billion, and additional help for at-risk students, a total of $747.5 million. Another $52 million is invested in grants to specifically address learning loss, helping kids who have fallen behind due to the pandemic. Keeping students safe remains a top priority, with an additional $168 million for school safety grants and $25 million for school resource officers. An additional $150 million provides grants to help schools hire counselors and support student mental health programs.
- Boosting workers, tourism, and local businesses: The plan provides resources for a variety of programs to help Michigan workers and businesses thrive, including a one-time $300 million investment to support community and economic development projects and a $30 million competitive grant program for business incubators that will help grow start-ups with the potential to provide good, high-demand jobs for years to come. Job training programs like the Going PRO Talent Fund and others continue to receive funding. The $40 million investment in the Pure Michigan campaign that has become so vital to the local tourism industry is maintained.
- Fixing roads: The plan continues to repair roads and bridges in Michigan, building upon a $4.7 billion plan approved in March, which funded roads, bridges, dams, broadband equipment, and other infrastructure. The overall Department of Transportation budget proposal includes about $6 billion – up from $5.4 billion in the current year – without raising taxes.
- Saving taxpayer dollars: Strategic investment and targeted debt reduction will conserve resources entrusted to the state by Michigan residents. The plan preserves billions of dollars unspent that can be used to offset relief for Michigan taxpayers. Already this year, the Legislature has approved multiple bipartisan tax relief plans — a gas tax pause and two proposals for income tax relief — but the governor vetoed all three of these efforts.
- Prioritizing fiscal responsibility: A $180 million deposit will bring the balance of the state’s “rainy-day fund” above $1.5 billion. The plan includes roughly $2.65 billion to reduce the debt of public retirement systems, including for local government employees, educators and school staff, and the Michigan State Police. This type of debt eats away at local government and school finances and is ultimately the state’s responsibility if pension obligations are not met at the local level. Paying off debt improves their finances and frees up funding for other essential services.
The budget, contained in House Bill 5783 and Senate Bill 845, now advances to the governor for her expected signature.