Another record-breaking education budget for Michigan students

In the early hours of July 1, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and legislative leaders came to an agreement on School Aid and Higher Education budgets for the coming school year that continue to break records for funding opportunities for Michigan students and educators.

With constant advocacy from Gov. Whitmer starting with her February budget proposal, the final budget spends a record $19.6 billion on PreK-12 schools, $530 million on community colleges and $3.5 billion on universities, all without raising taxes.

“MEA praises Gov. Whitmer and legislative leaders for coming together for the sake of our kids, parents and educators and passing this historic investment in public education,” said MEA President Paula Herbart in a media statement. “This budget agreement is a great step forward in helping to address the challenges facing our schools and giving every child an opportunity to succeed.”

Highlights from the School Aid budget for 2022-23 include:

  • $450 increase to the school foundation allowance, which brings the per-student funding to $9,150.
  • $300 million increase to special education as part of a new formula, under which districts would get reimbursed 28.6 percent of their special education costs as they do now plus additional funding equal to 75 percent of the base per pupil foundation allowance
  • $223 million more put into “at-risk” funding for economically disadvantaged students.
  • $305 million allocation for a Future Educators Fellowship, including $25 million for this year and $280 million over future years to provide up to $10,000 grants for students in teacher prep programs who commit to being teachers in Michigan after graduation.
  • $50 million for stipends for student teachers, providing up to $9,600 per semester to help with tuition, living expenses, childcare, or any other cost associated with student teaching.
  • $175 million for “grow your own” programs for districts to recruit and train prospective educators from the ranks of paraprofessionals and other support staff. Allowable expenses include tuition and fees, books, testing fees, travel, and a substitute employee salary.
  • $10 million increase for Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs, plus another $10 million to help with CTE teacher recruitment and retention.
  • $1 billion additional for the Michigan Public Schools Employees Retirement System (MPSERS), plus another $425 million into a MPSERS retirement reserve fund, helping to pay down unfunded liabilities and secure the retirement system for current and future retirees.
  • $34 million increase for Great Start Readiness Program and $25 million for before- and after school programs.
  • $475 million for a School Infrastructure and School Consolidation Fund for the purpose of improving student academic outcomes, increasing the efficiency of the state’s public education system, and creating a healthy and safe space for students.
  • $150 million for mental health needs paid to districts on a per-pupil basis, helping to hire additional staff; implement screening tools; provide school personnel with consultations with behavioral health clinicians; and other mental health services. In addition, $20 million for school based health centers, $25 million for ISD mental health grants, $50 million to expand the TRAILS program statewide, which improves youth access to evidence-based mental health services by training school mental health professionals in effective practices.
  • $150 million for school safety paid to districts on a per-pupil basis to fund coordination with law enforcement; training on threat assessment, threat response, crisis communication, and responsible gun ownership; safety infrastructure; professional development for school resource officers; and other school safety services or products. Plus $25 million for matching funds for districts to hire more school resource officers.

The Community College budget includes:

  • $16 million for a 5% ongoing increase for community college operations.
  • $55 million for the Michigan Reconnect program, which provides free tuition to Michiganders 25 or older who have a high school diploma and want to pursue an associate’s or technical degree
  • $10 million for community college academic catchup to provide grants to community colleges to support summer educational programs.
  • $9.2 million to help boost adult enrollment and help ensure those students complete a degree or certificate program.
  • $6 million for short-term training for individuals who are at least 21 years old to receive a skills scholarship to a qualified occupational or private training program.
  • $56 million to provide grants to each eligible community college to support students with an associate degree in nursing to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

Highlights from the Higher Education budget include:

  • $55 million for university operations, which provides a 2% to 5% increase for each university.
  • $17.7 million to support the first phase of a floor funding model which will bring all universities to a minimum of $4,500 for each enrolled student — as calculated using the fiscal year equated student formula — over the course of three years.
  • To further support university operations, a $300 million payment will be made to reduce certain annual retirement liabilities by nearly half, which allows participating universities to redirect these resources for other operational needs.
  • $250 million set aside to establish the new Postsecondary Scholarship Fund.

As part of the budget agreement, the governor and lawmakers left about $3.5 billion in school funding on the table to be earmarked later. MEA encouraged the Legislature to continue funding critical priorities with those funds.

“We urge lawmakers to maintain the spirit of bipartisanship and work with the governor to use the remaining funds to tackle the most urgent needs facing local schools,” Herbart said. “We must solve the educator shortage and provide incentives to keep good educators on the job; we must address the mental health crisis facing our students; and we must direct extra support to the students who need it most — and we must do it now.”

More budget details can be found in the Senate Fiscal Analysis of the education budget bill, SB 845.

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