by Scott McClallen
The Michigan Senate passed a plan totaling $17 billion for K-12 schools, hours before the budget deadline that levies no penalties for late action.
The real deadline for the state budget is Sept. 30, ahead of the Oct. 1 start of the state’s fiscal year.
House Bill 4410 passed on a 34-0 vote, which Senate Appropriations Chair Jim Stamas, R-Midland, called an “immediate priority.” The bill includes $10 million to repair natural disaster relief in cities flooded in June 2021.
The bill aims to increase the state’s statutory revenue sharing by 2% or a total of $1.4 billion, disburse $100 million in federal funds for nursing homes and $160 million for hospitals. Another $2.7 million would increase funding for police road patrols.
House Bill 4411 passed on a 33-1 vote. Both bills move to the House.
The plan “accomplishes one of our top priorities and goals that we have been working from for decades, elimination of the gap between the highest and the lowest funded districts,” Stamas said.
The budget is about a 10% increase in funding over the last year. The plan aims to set the state’s base foundation allowance at $8,700 per pupil.
The House passed a similar plan on June 25.
The bill also aims to allocate $1.6 billion to accelerate the payoff of roughly $40 billion of Michigan’s Public School Employees Retirement System’s (MPSER) debt and appropriate $240 million for school nurses and counselors and $168 million funding for the Great Start Readiness program.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer welcomed the bills but urged lawmakers to finish the budget.
“The bipartisan school aid bill makes historic investments in our children without raising taxes and will help each and every student thrive academically, mentally, and physically,” Whitmer said in a statement. “I look forward to signing this legislation to expand the Great Start Readiness preschool program for 22,000 more children and connect more students to counselors, psychologists, and nurses in their schools. The bill also delivers on a decades-old goal to close the K-12 school funding gap.”
Lawmakers adjourned without finishing the budget, missing a toothless July 1 deadline.
“We need to appropriate the $10 million in disaster aid for areas impacted by last weekend’s historic flooding,” Whitmer said. “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. In the meantime, I will continue to do all that I can to help Michiganders impacted by the flooding get the help and resources they need at the state and federal levels.”
The Great Lakes Education Project (GLEP) welcomed the vote.
“School funding should focus on one overarching priority – meeting the needs of Michigan’s students, no matter where they attend school,” GLEP Executive Director Beth DeShone said in a statement. “The House and the Senate – with broad, bipartisan majorities – have voted to put an end to funding discrimination that for decades targeted some of our state’s kids based on the public school they attended. Our kids have long deserved better.”
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.