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Proposed Mich. budget includes $50M to retain first responders

The potential payments to EMS providers, firefighters and police officers are part of the governor’s $74.1 billion plan that goes to the state legislature


Mich. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proposed the second record-breaking budget of her tenure, a $74.1 billion plan, to lawmakers Wednesday.

Photo/Jacob Hamilton/Tribune News Service

Malachi Barrett

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proposed the second record-breaking budget of her tenure, unveiling a $74.1 billion plan to lawmakers Wednesday.

The proposed budget, which runs from Oct. 1, 2022 through Sept. 30, 2023, is a 10% increase from last year’s $67.1 billion budget. State Budget Director Christopher Harkins said the budget takes advantage of a massive amount of federal funding and surplus revenue, sending dollars to schools, infrastructure projects and front-line workers while securing tax cuts for seniors and low-income workers.

“This budget is structurally sound,” Harkins said. “It’s important to understand that one-time balances are being used for one-time spending.”

Of the overall total, $14.3 billion comes from the state’s general fund and $16.6 billion comes from the school aid fund. Federal funding makes up 41% of the proposed budget.

The budget recommendation calls for $50 million to retain first responders, sending payments to law enforcement officers, public safety personnel, firefighters, EMTs and corrections employees.

The budget includes $9.2 million for a Michigan State Police trooper recruit school and $1 million to help diversify the department.

Whitmer’s budget proposal is a reflection of her priorities, but the final product will need to go through and be approved by the Legislature.

The fiscal year 2023 document explicitly makes a commitment “to address kitchen table issues and put money back in the pockets of families.” The budget includes several proposals Whitmer first introduced in her State of the State address last month.

Whitmer promised to increase the state Earned Income Tax Credit from 6% to 20%, restoring the tax credit to its original level. An estimated 750,000 families would receive $300 on average thanks to the tax cut, Harkins said.

The governor also plans to phase out taxes on retirement income during the next four years.

Pensioners over the age of 65 would start with a 25% tax cut on retirement income. Eligibility and the size of the exemption would increase each year until all pensioners are eligible for a 100% exemption by 2025. The plan would save 500,000 seniors an estimated $1,000 each year when fully implemented, according to the governor’s office.

The budget also includes $1.5 billion in retention bonuses for teachers, school administrators, paraprofessionals and noninstructional staff. The bonuses would provide $2,000 for school employees who come back in the fall, a $2,000 bonus the following year, $3,000 for the third year and $4,000 for the fourth year.

The budget also includes $500 million in “hero pay” for front-line workers who filled essential jobs through the pandemic, $135 million for behavioral health workers, $60 million for nursing home non-direct care workers.

Whitmer’s $18.4 billion school aid budget provides the biggest state education funding increase in two decades. The governor is recommending including $580 million to increase per-pupil funding, $600 million to recruit and train teachers, $361 million to address student mental health and $65 million for school safety programs.

Schools would gain $435 in extra funding for each student, increasing per-pupil funding from $8,700 to $9,135. The budget also creates a $1 billion fund help school districts offset the cost modernization and infrastructure projects.

The budget also calls for $56 million for the Great Start Readiness Program, which provides free preschool for income-eligible four-year-olds, and $50 million for extracurricular programs.

Fixing the “damn roads” also makes a big appearance in the fiscal year 2023 budget. Whitmer is proposing a $1.1 billion increase to the state transportation budget that adds $578 million from federal infrastructure spending and $481 million in state funds.

The budget recommendation also includes $150 million to prioritize projects that are “economically critical,” carry high traffic volumes, increase the useful life of key local roads, or will be completed in conjunction with bridge replacement projects.

Harkins said the infrastructue budget will aim to address the shutdown of state highways that flooded several times during severe rainstorms last year. The budget includes $66 million for pump station generators to ensure reliable backup power is available.

Michigan’s new Infrastructure Office, which Whitmer created through exectutive order last year, would receive $5 million. The office is focused on directing federal infrastructure funding coordinating state agencies and local stakeholders on projects.

Whitmer also seeks ·$10 million to fund a new Office of Rural Development. It’s focused on workforce, education and infrastructure issues affecting rural communities.

The budget flags $48 million for lead line replacement projects, $40 million to help people under the poverty line replace home plumbing and $34.3 million in grants to address flooding, coastline erosion, transportation networks, urban heat, and stormwater management.

Universities and community colleges would receive a 5% increase plus a 5% one-time increase and $200 million for campus infrastructure, technology, equipment and maintenance funds.

Economic proposals include a $500 million deposit into the Strategic Outreach and Reserve Fund, used to attract new manufacturing projects. Whitmer also wants $40 million to aid communities “that have experienced significant economic impacts” from the departure or disinvestment of large-scale employers.

Job training programs are also set for a boost. The budget calls for $200 million for the Michigan Regional Empowerment Program and $85.8 million for workforce development programs.


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