Whitmer’s new budget proposal includes universal preK-14 and free school meals

A photo of Governor Whitmer during the budget presentation.Free universal preschool and community college, along with continued record funding for Michigan’s public schools, are at the heart of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s proposed 2024-25 education budget, which she announced Wednesday.

Whitmer said her latest budget recommendation “builds on the historic investments we’ve made since I took office and delivers on the issues that make a real difference in people’s lives. Together, let’s lower costs for working families, deliver the Michigan Guarantee to offer every Michigan child a free public education from pre-K through community college, save family caregivers thousands on their taxes, and power our economic and workforce development to build and lead the future. Let’s get it done so everyone can ‘make it’ in Michigan.”

In her latest Detroit News “Labor Voices” column, MEA President Chandra Madafferi called the governor’s universal preK-14 plan a “game changer.”

“The governor’s plan creates boundless opportunities for students, helps attract the next generation of stellar educators to the profession, and makes our state one to be reckoned with on a national and international scale,” said Madafferi, a teacher from Oakland County. “It is a bold, forward-looking plan that directly benefits every Michigan student and educator, as well as local communities and current and future businesses from Detroit to the U.P.”

Highlights of the governor’s budget proposal include:

PreK-12 education

  • $370 million to support a 2.5% across-the-board increase in base per-student funding. This will provide an additional $241 per student, for a record total of $9,849 in base funding per student.
  • $300 million to continue investments in student mental health and school safety.
  • $200 million to continue providing universal free breakfast and lunch for every student, regardless of income or ZIP code.
  • $159 million to fully expand free pre-K for every 4-year-old in Michigan.
  • $175 million to support educator attraction and retention efforts, including the MI Future Educator Fellowship, which provides $10,000 annually to college students in teacher prep programs ($25 million); local “Grow Your Own” initiatives that help school support staff work toward becoming certified teachers ($50 million); stipends for student teachers ($50 million); and teacher mentoring initiatives geared toward keeping early career educators in the profession and helping them grow ($50 million). (Read more about the push to leverage these kinds of funds in this year’s budget for improved educator compensation.)
  • $251.2 million to continue funding literacy grants and coaches for students who require additional instruction.
  • $200 million for tutoring through the MI Kids Back on Track program and continuing to expand learning opportunities through before- and after-school programs.
  • $127 million to continue the expansion of support for special education students — a 12% increase in the state allocation.
  • $125 million to provide a 5% increase in funding to support academically at-risk students, English language learners, career and technical education students, and students in rural school districts.
  • $125 million to continue reimbursements to districts for transportation costs, helping ease the disproportionate financial impact many rural districts face and freeing up dollars for the classroom.
  • $45 million for additional support for vocational education and career and technical education, including equipment upgrades and a new pilot program to connect high schoolers with key local industries.

Higher education

  • 5% ongoing increase for university and community college operations.
  • $30 million investment to increase funding for the Michigan Achievement Scholarship.
  • $20 million increase in the Tuition Incentive Program, which provides tuition support to lower-income students in Michigan’s community colleges, public universities and private universities.
  • $14 million for the North American Indian Tuition Waiver, which provides tuition-free higher education for eligible Native Americans attending Michigan public universities and community colleges.

To learn more and view the governor’s budget presentation, visit michigan.gov/budget.

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