Michigan House approves $300M bill to boost police hiring

The bipartisan bill would fund equipment upgrades, hiring initiatives and retention bonuses


By Samuel J. Robinson
mlive.com

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan House voted Thursday to pass a mid-year appropriations bill that would allocate more than $300 million to increase funding for police department hiring and retention initiatives.

House Bill 5522 would appropriate $328.5 million for equipment upgrades, hiring initiatives, retention bonuses and a variety of other programs to attract and retain police officers. Republican sponsors originally proposed $250 million for the bill in November.

The Michigan Capitol in Lansing, Mich. is pictured.
The Michigan Capitol in Lansing, Mich. is pictured. (Emily Lawler)

Of the $328.5 million, $197.8 million is from the state’s general fund and $130.8 million is from federal Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Funds that were authorized through the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

One of the programs included in the bill would use $57.5 million to encourage police departments to hire officers from out-of-state. Another program allocates $25 million in federal Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Funds to be used as 50% match for costs of developing and constructing a central intake assessment facility in Macomb County.

Other state agencies being appropriated funding through the bill include: the Department of State, the Department of Treasury, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Corrections and the Department of Attorney General.

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Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle hailed the proposal as a massive investment into Michigan communities. The bill passed 97-3, with the three no votes coming from Republican reps. Steve Johnson, Wayland, Steve Carra, Three Rivers, and John Reilly, Oakland Township.

“Our communities cannot thrive without the protection of our law enforcement officers,” said Bryan Posthumous, R- Cannon Township.

House Democrats, who voted unanimously in support of the bill, also heaped praise to Michigan’s law enforcement officers Thursday.

Activists had called on lawmakers to use funding allocated for police departments for community services like like job training, counseling or violence-prevention programs. Instead, Democrats and Republicans agreed increasing police funding makes communities safer.

Despite repeated claims from Republican lawmakers in Michigan that state Democrats supported defunding police departments, most large Michigan cities are spending more on police services in wake of last year’s racial justice movement.

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“This legislation will take significant steps towards stopping the surge of violence that we’ve seen in many communities following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Saginaw Democrat Amos O’Neal. “But policing is not a panacea for crime. We need a multifaceted approach to change the conditions that lead people to crimes in the first place.”

The House adopted an amendment to the bill from Rep. Gary Howell, R- North Branch, which would bring extra funding for school resource officers, from $10 to $50 million.

Howell, whose son is a teacher at Oxford High School, where a shooting earlier this week left four students dead, thanked school resource officers Thursday, saying that they are the first line of defense during a shooting.

“I cannot sufficiently express my gratitude to the school resource officer who protected John and his students,” Howell said.

[RELATED: Police: School resource officer disarmed gunman at Mich. high school]

House Democratic Leader Donna Lasinski, D- Scio Township, also introduced an amendment to the bill to allocate $330 million in federal COVID relief funding made available last December.

Her amendment, as well as several others from Democratic House members were not adopted into the bill.

“We are quickly approaching the one year anniversary of the passage of federal COVID relief funding, but Michigan Republicans continue to refuse this support and let it gather dust in D.C. instead of being brought home to Michigan where it can be put to good use,” Lasinski said.

The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

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McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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