Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is proposing the largest funding increase for public education in 20 years, with proposals to recruit and retain educators, increase per-student spending, rebuild mental health supports, expand preschool access, and fund school construction and renovations.
In addition, the governor’s budget, presented to lawmakers Wednesday, proposes 5% ongoing increases for the state’s colleges and universities, along with a one-time 5% increase. Whitmer’s plan would also allocate $200 million for campus infrastructure, technology, equipment and maintenance funds.
“Governor Whitmer’s bold plan is the most transformational investment in public education we have seen in decades,” MEA President Paula Herbart said. “The governor’s budget proposal attacks Michigan’s acute educator shortage head-on, and her plan will make a real difference in recruiting, retaining and respecting educators to help every student succeed.”
The governor’s $18.4 billion preK-12 education budget proposal would increase the state’s per-student foundation allowance by 5%, bringing it to $9,135. On top of that, Whitmer is proposing additional funding for districts with a greater proportion of special education and at-risk students as well as districts with a larger share of English language learners or students enrolled in career technical education programs.
Programs to help students experiencing mental health issues – which was a growing problem before the pandemic now greatly exacerbated by the public health crisis – are addressed in proposals to add more mental health professionals in schools and expand training and resources for educators.
A four-year plan to pay educator retention bonuses, alongside proposals to provide scholarships for aspiring educators, pay stipends to student teachers, and offer funding for districts’ “grow-your-own” programs, would help to address an urgent educator shortage that has evolved into a crisis in recent years.
“This budget would help advance every single goal of the state’s Top 10 state strategic education plan and, in so doing, would improve the lives of our more than 1.4 million Michigan public school children,” state Superintendent Michael Rice said.
Whitmer’s recommendations were presented Wednesday by Budget Director Chris Harkins at a joint meeting of the state House and Senate Appropriations committees. The executive proposal begins the annual process of negotiating a spending plan which must be approved by the Legislature and signed by the governor.