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Gov. Whitmer visits Kentwood elementary to highlight education funding increase

Governor Gretchen Whitmer visited a Kentwood elementary school on the second day of the year.

KENTWOOD, Mich. - A group of Kentwood elementary students received a visit from a high profile guest Tuesday morning.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was at Meadowlawn Elementary to meet with students and staff on their second day of school. She used the opportunity to highlight her 2020 budget, which includes the largest funding increase in Michigan schools in a generation of students.

The governor also focused on education. 

"We have to do both and it's not going to be easy," she told reporters. "But I've put a plan on the table that actually cleans up drinking water, closes the skills gap, educates kids and fixes the damn roads."

The next fiscal year starts Oct. 1 and lawmakers have not yet finalized a budget due to the impasse over road funding. Whitmer recently said she and GOP leaders are "desperate" to avoid a government shutdown -- she even considered proposing a stopgap budget measure as long as there were "good-faith negations" about spending more to fix the roads. 

"We have a lot of work to do in a very short period of time now. If we bump up against getting the budget done on time, it's going to be months like the last two where they took a vacation and didn't get the work done," said Whitmer.

If there is no "real progress" and bills aren't sent to her desk by mid-September, Whitmer said she will have to consider contingency plans. School districts didn't know their state funding by July 1 -- the start of their fiscal year -- which was the first in a decade. 

The $56.8 billion dollar budget is set to expire on Oct. 1 when the new fiscal year begins. If no budget is agreed to before then, the state government would go into shutdown.

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