EAST LANSING — The following statement can be attributed to MEA President Paula Herbart regarding the state budget recommendations announced today by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer:
“Gov. Whitmer has once again shown her commitment to public education by proposing the largest investment in public schools in Michigan history. Increased per-pupil support is badly needed after decades of inadequately funding public education in our state. We applaud both the effort to narrow the per-pupil foundation allowance gap and advocacy for increased weighted funding for students with greater needs, such as at-risk, special education, English language learners and geographically isolated districts.
“The Governor’s budget also provides clear recognition that the pandemic has created additional needs to be addressed, allocating more than $600 million for student recovery supports, declining enrollment, out-of-school learning opportunities, student and educator mental health, and other emergency funding. These funds will help students who have fallen behind catch up, help school districts stabilize their budgets, fund summer school and day camps, and offset costs to keep students and school employees safe from COVID-19.
“We are also pleased to see $55 million allocated in her budget to the “Filters First” program to ensure clean, safe drinking water in our schools. The pandemic has overshadowed many pre-existing problems that still need attention, and this is an important one.
“Additional funding for universities and community colleges under this budget is also key, with a 2% increase plus an additional $70 million in funding to address the costs related to COVID-19. In concert with increases for the Reconnect and Futures for Frontliners programs designed to help adults access post-secondary education, additional higher ed funding helps both our students and our economy.
“We call on the Legislature not only to support today’s budget recommendations, but to also immediately and fully distribute federal COVID relief funding available for students and educators. Schools need these resources right away to meet additional costs of educating students safely during this pandemic. Delays fueled by partisan politics won’t be tolerated by parents, school employees and taxpayers who believe this funding needs to be distributed as the federal government intended.”