(WWJ) Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed a new state budget that includes millions of dollars to help schools deal with the coronavirus, funding for a free tuition program for essential works, and hazard pay for teachers.
The governor's office says the 2021 budget delivers on many of Whitmer's 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.
The budged also includes millions of dollars for nursing homes, which have been heavily impacted by COVID-19.
This is happening just in time, as the new budget year starts on Thursday.
“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 ,” said Whitmer, in a media release. “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 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.
“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,” LEO Director Jeff Donofrio said. “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 what the state deacribed as "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.
“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,” said State Budget Director Chris Kolb. “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.