State Rep. Julie Calley today voted for a state budget plan that prioritizes the everyday needs of students, families and communities while leaving room for billions of dollars in potential tax relief to help address inflation.
Calley, of Portland, said the plan approved by the Legislature continues the trend of increased investment in education and school safety, mental health, community development and other essential services – while paying off more long-term debt, providing financial flexibility moving forward, and leaving room for the tax relief Michigan families desperately need.
“Our budget prioritizes funding for students, public safety, road improvements and other essential services,” Calley said. “It also keeps billions of taxpayer dollars unspent, so discussions about lowering taxes can continue in the coming days. Inflation has been hitting people hard, and tax relief will give Michiganders some breathing room.”
Highlights of the state budget plan approved today include:
- Supporting students: The school aid budget allocates a record $19.6 billion to support education for Michigan students. After last year’s budget provided schools with equal per-pupil foundation allowance funding for the first time, the new plan increases the amount of each grant from $8,700 per student to $9,150. Increased investments will support special education, bringing the total to $1.92 billion, and additional help for at-risk students, a total of $747.5 million. Another $52 million is invested in grants to specifically address learning loss, helping kids who have fallen behind due to the pandemic. Keeping students safe remains a top priority, with an additional $168 million for school safety grants and $25 million for school resource officers. An additional $150 million provides grants to help schools hire counselors and support student mental health programs.
- Saving taxpayer dollars: Strategic investment and targeted debt reduction will conserve resources entrusted to the state by Michigan residents. The plan preserves billions of dollars unspent that can be used to offset relief for Michigan taxpayers. Already this year, the Legislature has approved multiple bipartisan tax relief plans — a gas tax pause and two proposals for income tax relief — but the governor vetoed all three of these efforts.
- Prioritizing fiscal responsibility: A $180 million deposit will bring the balance of the state’s “rainy-day fund” above $1.5 billion. The plan includes roughly $2.65 billion to reduce the debt of public retirement systems, including for local government employees, educators and school staff, and the Michigan State Police. This type of debt eats away at local government and school finances and is ultimately the state’s responsibility if pension obligations are not met at the local level. Paying off debt improves their finances and frees up funding for other essential services.
- Protecting communities: On top of regular police funding, additional support for state and local law enforcement will help officers protect people throughout Michigan and form relationships in the communities they serve. The budget provides $30 million to help meet critical staffing needs in public safety departments with funding for police officer academies, scholarships, and cadet salaries. Further resources will help pay for upgrades to equipment, such as communication towers.
- Boosting workers and local businesses: The plan provides resources for a variety of programs to help Michigan workers and businesses thrive, including a one-time $300 million investment to support community and economic development projects and a $30 million competitive grant program for business incubators that will help grow start-ups with the potential to provide good, high-demand jobs for years to come. Job training programs like the Going PRO Talent Fund and others continue to receive funding. This budget continues to make the investments needed for the agricultural industry to thrive – including a one-time $50 million investment to spur economic development.
- Fixing roads: The plan continues to repair roads and bridges in Michigan, building upon a $4.7 billion plan approved in March, which funded roads, bridges, dams, broadband equipment, and other infrastructure. The overall Department of Transportation budget proposal includes about $6 billion – up from $5.4 billion in the current year – without raising taxes.
- Improving government efficiency: Service to taxpayers has suffered at the unemployment office, Secretary of State, and many other areas as the Whitmer administration has kept many state employees working remotely since the pandemic started. State government works better when employees are available to interact in-person with each other and customers. To encourage efficiency, this budget will require state departments to post their policies and detail whether employees are at home or working in-person.
The budget, contained in House Bill 5783 and Senate Bill 845, now advances to the governor for her expected signature.
Thank you for granting me this opportunity to serve you the last six years. You have inspired me with your strength, determination, collaboration, sincerity, and compassion. I have met so many fantastic servant leaders in Barry and Ionia counties. I appreciate your partnership, and I will benefit from your example for years to come.
Calley, of Portland, said the Open Meetings Act is frequently referenced by public bodies, the people who serve on them, and the public – yet it currently includes confusing language and complicated legal terminology that can inspire more questions instead of providing clear-cut answers. The solution Calley is offering rewrites the Open Meetings Act using plain language.
State Rep. Julie Calley, center, recently welcomed a Hastings family to the state Capitol, where they shadowed her as “Representatives for a Day.” Dr. Paul DeWitt and his wife Jennie won the opportunity through the 2020 fundraiser auction benefitting Green Gables Haven, a nonprofit organization in Hastings that serves people impacted by domestic violence. They were accompanied by their grandchildren, Christian and Lily Haire.