The Michigan Legislature yesterday finished up work on the new state budget that will go into effect this fall. The state House passed the bills with large bipartisan majorities. After wrapping up negotiations with the governor and the state Senate, Speaker of the House Jason Wentworth (R-Farwell) today highlighted some of the ways in which Northern Michigan will benefit from the agreement.
“This budget funds our top priorities and addresses some of the biggest needs in our area,” said Wentworth. “I’ve been working closely with local community leaders to find the best use for state funds, and I’m glad we were able to work together to make sure several local projects made the cut. These investments in our future are important to the people I represent, so they’re important to me.”
Specifically, the new state budget includes $25 million for a new community health and recreation center in Clare, $15 million for upgrades and an expansion of the Magnus Center skilled trades facility in Harrison, and $800,000 for repairs to the Lake Forest Dam.
Dam repairs and safety upgrades have been a focus for Speaker Wentworth and the Michigan House in recent years, including a $500 million statewide repair plan introduced in 2021 and a nearly $5 billion infrastructure plan that focused on dam repairs, waterway safety and disaster relief that passed earlier this year. Those plans included nearly $7 million for repairs to the Lake Shamrock dam and $3.4 million to secure the Farwell dam.
The community complex in Clare is a new one-stop-shop concept that brings healthcare services, recreation, and community events together into one place. Connecting those services will create new opportunities for the community, make healthcare easier to access, and give everyone new options for how to find the care they need.
Expanding access to skilled trades opportunities has been a big part of recent education funding plans. The Magnus Center particularly is in high demand from both local employers looking to fill roles and from students looking for new jobs. Enrollment is up 30% this year alone, and new space will help those students and employers, as well as nearby small businesses and the local economy as a whole.
“People in our area always need easier and closer access to healthcare, and everyone is concerned about the high cost of living and a looming recession,” said Wentworth. “With these investments, we can help address both issues and give people the peace of mind they deserve. We are doing everything we can at the state level to make sure job opportunities are available, that small businesses struggling after the pandemic can find workers and keep the doors open, and that families can easily find affordable healthcare options right in their own backyard. Those are important things to the people who live here, and our state budget should reflect that.”
The state budget was voted on and passed by both the state House and state Senate early Friday morning. Other highlights of the plan include the following:
- A record $19.6 billion for K-12 education, which includes record funding per-student for local schools and almost $600 million to recruit new teachers.
- $6 billion for road and bridge repairs around the state.
- $130 million in new public safety funding and community policing resources.
- $700 million for mental health services, training new nurses to help address hospital staffing shortages, and providing more healthcare options for foster children.
- $2.6 billion to pay down debts, including funding for teacher pensions and local governments who are underwater on their pension obligations.
- $7 billion left aside for ongoing negotiations over a gas tax holiday and income tax cut.
The new education budget, Senate Bill 845, and the new state budget, House Bill 5783, both now move to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for her signature before taking effect at the end of the state’s fiscal year on October 1st.
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