Gov. Whitmer Signs 2021 Michigan Budget Into Law

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MICHIGAN — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed her second budget into law, ensuring that Michigan has its spending plan in place prior to the start of the new fiscal year on Oct 1.

The governor said the budget delivers on many of her 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.

“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 ,” Whitmer said. “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.”

Education Budgeting

The budget does not include any state funding reductions for schools, colleges, universities and local governments below their original 2020 funding levels. The budget includes new education investments focused on providing students, teachers and adults across Michigan with needed resources, according to Whitmer. Those resources include:

  • $161 million in flexible per pupil spending to help districts address the increased costs of educating students in the midst of a pandemic.

  • $30 million for the Michigan Reconnect program to provide a tuition-free pathway for adults looking to upskill and earn a postsecondary certificate or associate degree. Implementing Reconnect will help close the skills gap and move the state closer to reaching 60% postsecondary educational attainment by 2030.

  • $5.6 million for mental health counselors to assist children in schools across Michigan with mental health needs.

  • $5 million in incentives to attract and retain first-year teachers in districts across Michigan.

  • An increase of $5.7 million to continue to fund literacy coaches and expand resources to improve training for other educators in best practices of literacy learning.

  • $2 million in additional supports to assist vulnerable students who are learning remotely, including special education students, students who are chronically absent, and children in need of childcare while their parents are working.

  • $2 million for Detroit Public TV to foster early childhood initiatives to enhance learning and early education.

  • Implementation of previously announced teacher hazard payments of up to $500 per teacher, along with the addition of payments of up to $250 for school support staff.

  • $1 million for school meal debt forgiveness.

“For Michigan to succeed in the global race for talent, we need effective tools that help our citizens get the skills the 21st century economy demands,” said Sandy K. Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber. “I could not be more pleased that Governor Whitmer and the Legislature have prioritized the Michigan Reconnect program in this difficult budget year. It is a proven model to help adults in the workforce achieve their next level of skill development and professional success that also strengthens the talent pipeline for employers.”

Michigan Health Budget

Whitmer said a focus of the budget was to prioritize the health of families across Michigan. Resources included in the budget include:

  • $12.6 million for the Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies program to ensure women are given the care they need to have a healthy pregnancy and to expand support for interventions that are proven to improve outcomes.

  • $26 million to expand access to childcare for families by increasing the income limit from 130% to 150% of the federal poverty level, expanding childcare services to nearly 6,000 children.

  • $135 million to extend the $2.00/hour wage increase for direct care workers assisting the elderly and other vulnerable individuals during this especially difficult time.

  • $20 million in additional support for nursing homes for COVID-19-related cost increases.

  • $20 million to support the state’s psychiatric hospitals so that Michiganders in need of mental health services have improved access and care.

  • $2 million for the Lead Poisoning Prevention Fund to protect Michigan families from lead in their homes.

  • $10 million to implement foster care policies to keep more children with families rather than entering congregate care.

  • $2.5 million to provide first responders with the mental health services they need, including treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

“We are incredibly grateful to Governor Whitmer and the Legislature for making investments in strategies proven to reduce racial disparities in infant and maternal outcomes,” said Dr. Renay Gagleard, Board Chair for the Michigan Council for Maternal and Child Health. “Extending coverage in the postpartum period will undoubtedly save lives. One in three pregnancy-related deaths occur in the postpartum period, and it’s a critical time for providers to identify mothers who may need help with postpartum depression or to continue treatment for a substance use disorder. This continuity of care will help ensure more babies aren’t left to start their lives without their mother.”

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. 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.

This article originally appeared on the Detroit Patch

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