LANSING — (WLNS):
Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer released her proposed 2021-22 budget and it includes several increases in funding for public schools, family health and environmental wellness.
In education, Whitmer proposed increases in funding to better support students whose educational needs are more costly. The total amount she has allotted to school aid comes to $415 million, which will cover per-pupil funding, support for English language learners, teacher retirement, preschool programs, state-funded programs, school infrastructure and more.
Whitmer proposed a $290 million increase base per-pupil funding to $8,336 for districts at the minimum and $8,679 for districts at the maximum. The increase would help to close the gap between the highest and lowest funded districts to $343 per pupil.
According to the budget proposal, the FY 2021 amount set aside per pupil is the largest increase in 20 years.
To address health concerns, Whitmer is setting aside $86 million to double the number of physicians in rural areas. Her budget also invests $37.5 million into the Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies programs to ensure Michigan parents are given the proper tools they need to have a healthy pregnancy and to improve outcomes for parents.
In this package is a proposed $27 million to expand access to childcare for families by increasing the income limit from 130% to 150% of the federal poverty level, expanding childcare services to an estimated 5,900 children.
In climate and environment, Whitmer is setting aside more than $115 million for managing the threats to Michigan’s environment, including rising water levels, mitigation of risks to public school environments such as lead poisoning and asbestos and emergency response to environment contamination.
Most recently, to combat high water levels, the Michigan Senate voted to allow homeowners residing alongside the Great Lakes to temporarily put up structures to combat erosion from record-high water levels. This year’s higher-than-normal water levels were due in part to above-average December temperatures, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Detroit District. Those warmer temperatures created more runoff into lakes with melting snow, the engineers found. Additionally, warm air also decreased the evaporation from the lake’s surface, making water levels abnormally high.
In addition to combating rising water levels and other threats to Michigan’s environment, Whitmer has proposed more funding to mitigate the harmful effects of chemicals comes from the continued threat of lead poisoning among young children.
A Michigan Department of Health and Human Services report found that percentage of children under age six with elevated blood lead levels (based on venous blood tests) has declined from 42.7% to 3.6% between 1998 and 2016. Even so, counties such as Genesee, Muskegon, Calhoun, Wayne and Oakland Counties still had a high concentration of young children with elevated blood lead levels.
In her address, Whitmer said this budget plan is an investment in K-12 schools, the protection of public health and an investment in Michigan families.
To read the full budget proposal, visit this website.