State Rep. Chris Afendoulis this week voted in favor of a Michigan House budget plan focused on increased funding for education and road repairs.
Afendoulis, of Grand Rapids Township, joined the House Appropriations Committee in approving the bill that drives down overall spending while increasing investments in top priorities.
“I believe the state budget should focus on paying down our debt and investing in what’s most important to our families, our communities and our economy,” Afendoulis said. “Overall, this budget plan prioritizes education, public health, workforce training, and other programs that will improve quality of life in Kent County and across the state.”
Highlights of the House plan:
- School funding would increase to $14.8 billion, a new record for K-12 investment, with the largest annual per-student increase in 15 years – ranging from $120 to $240. The House plan invests more in early literacy and preparing students for in-demand careers. More than a quarter of the House’s overall budget proposal goes to schools.
- Enhanced safety at K-12 schools and college campuses, including provisions to raise standards for handling sexual assault complaints at universities, and significant expansion of the state’s OK2SAY school safety program.
- Universities and community colleges would be in line for additional funding. “A lot of the important work for job training and getting people into high-demand careers is done at community colleges,” said Afendoulis, who chairs a House budget subcommittee focused on community colleges. “If we want to prepare the ‘next generation’ workforce and improve the state’s economy, we’ve got to be investing in community colleges.”
- Road repair funding at the highest levels in Michigan history. Overall, the state will have pumped more than $2 billion in additional funds into roads and bridges over a three-year period by the upcoming budget year – with more money coming in the future.
- A focus on improving mental health services so Michigan residents can live healthier, happier and more independent lives. Reinforcing the House CARES initiative, more than $15 million would be invested in a variety of programs supporting increased access to health care, services to military veterans, problem-solving courts, crime victims’ rights initiatives and other efforts.
- Public safety investments including the training of 130 new Michigan State Police troopers – putting our trooper strength at its highest level in 18 years.
- A $1.5 million investment to further reduce the backlog for testing rape kits and develop a statewide tracking system to make sure a backlog never occurs again.
- Savings for taxpayers by closing a state prison, reflecting the state’s efforts to reduce Michigan’s inmate population.
- An overall emphasis on accountability to taxpayers and efficient government. The House plan would spend less money next budget year than last year, continuing a trend of spending less annually while prioritizing what’s most important.
House Bills 5578-9 advance to the House floor for further consideration.