Local organizations respond to Gov. Whitmer’s budget proposal

Michigan

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at a coronavirus briefing in Lansing on Feb. 4, 2021. (Courtesy Michigan Executive Office of the Governor)

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Several organizations applauded Gov. Whitmer after she unveiled the newest budget proposal for the Great Lakes State. Some on the other hand, were unhappy with the budget proposal.

Among the dissenters was Great Lakes Education Project Executive Director Beth DeShone, who provided the following comment today, after the presentation of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s budget, stating that Whitmer plans to “dramatically cut funding” for students attending online public schools during a pandemic, while many public schools still refuse to open their doors for in-person learning.

“Governor Whitmer’s move to slash funding for public school teachers and students who attend public school online is a broadside attack on public education and on families in the middle of a global pandemic.   

“Whitmer forced students to attend classes online when she ignored the CDC, ignored pediatricians, ignored the science and locked kids out of school buildings across the state.  Many of those schools still haven’t re-opened.  Michigan students rely on online public schools now more than ever. 

“That Whitmer would slash the budgets that pay Michigan teachers’ salaries, provide computers for kids, and online classrooms that so many students rely on daily is both astounding and reprehensible.  

“Michigan kids and their families deserve the Governor’s support, not a budget cut.  The public school teachers Whitmer attacked today deserve that support, too.” 

AFT Michigan President David Hecker said the budget addresses the needs and priorities of Michigan families during the pandemic.

“During challenging times, like what our state has experienced over the last year, it’s important to focus on what matters most, the health of our families and friends, the strength of our communities, and the promise of a better future. That’s what our priorities should be, and we’re pleased to see that, in the context of available revenue, Governor Whitmer’s budget focuses on those areas. This budget shows a commitment to ensuring students and educators at all levels would have much needed resources to address issues made worse by the pandemic. The governor is heeding the call of educators and giving a much-needed boost to preK-12 and higher education funding, while ensuring school communities have the mental health support they need to address the struggles we’ve all faced throughout the pandemic. Governor Whitmer’s priorities echo the sentiments of so many across Michigan who want bright futures for their kids, the opportunity for everyone to learn and thrive, and for educators to be supported in neighborhood schools and the halls of higher education.”

Michigan Community College President Michael Hansen applauded the new budget for helping Michigan to recover from the financial hardships created by the pandemic. He said that Michigan’s community colleges will continue to benefit from the budget in issuing the following statement: 

“Michigan’s community colleges are pleased to see continued investment in new learning opportunities at community colleges for Michiganders through the Reconnect and Futures for Frontliners programs. Funding these programs will allow us to keep providing educational tools to advance the careers of our residents.”

“Community colleges have long been the best place for high-quality affordable education, and we are now proud to have these programs to help us further help close the talent gap in Michigan. These tools will be critical to helping our state and its people recover from the economic struggles that the pandemic created.”

“We’re also pleased to see an increase in funding for our standard operations as well as money for the COVID-related expenses we are encountering during these difficult times.”

Dr. Laura Sherman, president of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council said businesses and homeowners unable to afford energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements would be able to leverage money through Michigan Saves because of a $5 million investment proposed in Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s budget detailed Thursday.  

“Research shows every dollar invested in energy efficiency ends up saving more than $3. The governor’s budget will leverage $5 million in state funds through Michigan Saves. This investment will create jobs and improve how we power businesses and homes across the state.”

Michigan Saves, a Lansing-based organization providing energy financing, is a member of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council. 

State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice today applauded the executive budget recommendations presented by Governor Gretchen Whitmer that recognizes the needs of children during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I appreciate Governor Whitmer’s prioritization of children, educators, and schools in her budget,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. “To move through and beyond this public health crisis, we need to increase and target resources to address the education challenges both existent before and created by the pandemic.

“Additional time and resources are going to be required to help address the foregone learning and the social-emotional learning and mental health needs of our students,” Dr. Rice said. “The governor’s proposed investments will help our children in pre-K-12 and early child care settings now and into the next school year. I encourage the legislature to work closely with the governor to help support our families, children, and schools at this difficult moment.” 

The Michigan League for Public Policy President and CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs. also commended the new budget.

Overview:

“We appreciate Gov. Whitmer’s continued commitment to promoting equity for all residents in the state’s approaches, policies and funding priorities, including in today’s 2022 budget proposal. The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare longstanding health disparities, and the governor continues to call for targeted and strategic investments to help improve the experiences and outcomes of all residents. Education continues to be a top and necessary priority, with major investments proposed in child care and preschool, K-12 schools, and higher education and skills training for adults and frontline workers.” 

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