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Whitmer signs 2021 state budget focused on education, healthcare

The new spending plan will begin Oct. 1

LANSING, Mich — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed the state budget for the fiscal year 2021, a news release from the state announced Wednesday. The $62.8 billion budget, which was passed by the Michigan Legislature Wednesday, Sept. 23, prioritizes education, economic development and public health.

The new budget protects schools, colleges and universities from experiencing funding cut below their 2020 funding levels. Instead of reducing education funding, the budget includes new education investments.

RELATED: Michigan lawmakers unveil, start passing $62B state budget

These investments include the following, as provided by the Michigan Executive Office of the Governor:

  • $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.

Along with education investments, the budget prioritizes the health of Michigan families. Investments in family health include the following, as provided by the Michigan Executive Office of the Governor:

  • $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.

The budget will also allocate funds to environmental initiatives, law enforcement training, internet access expansion, business attraction efforts, and more.

The new budget will go into effect Thursday, Oct. 1.

RELATED: Whitmer, Michigan lawmakers pass 2021 state budget

“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.”

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