Gov. Whitmer looks to tackle education issues in budget

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Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced a massive spending increase to Michigan’s K-12 schools, as well as a proposal to make college more affordable.

The governor’s proposal includes $507 million to help boost K-12 spending. It includes a $180 per-pupil raise to help fund with special education needs, vocational schooling and low-income communities and students. An additional $120 million would go toward special education.

Education leaders say the per-pupil funding boost would go a long way for schools.

“It would buy more teachers in the classrooms. It buys social workers, and text books,” said Don Wotruba, Executive Director of Michigan Association of School Boards. “And it just puts our schools in a place to really, not even solve the problem, but at least start addressing some of the problems financially that they’ve had in districts over the last decade.”

Governor Whitmer also addressed college education in her budget. The Michigan Reconnect Program would help people, ages 25-and-older, get back into the workforce or move up in their careers. It would provide them with a tuition-free associates degree or technical certification to fill jobs that are in high-demand. The state would put $50 million into creating the program this year, with an additional $50 million in 2020. 

Lansing Community College President Brent Knight thinks the idea is a good one.

“There’s a growing skills gap, and Michigan’s community colleges can prepare people to get a better job,” he said.

Governor Whitmer also plans to boost funding for colleges and universities by three percent which she says would hopefully keep tuition down. Universities would need to keep their tuition increases at 3.2 percent or lower.

The governor also announced she’ll slash the base funding for cyber schools by 20 percent, because she says they do not need the same resources and money as traditional schools.

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