Michigan’s new state budget plan has sailed through the Legislature with bipartisan support and should soon be signed in state law, Rep. Eric Leutheuser of Hillsdale said.
The budget includes support for top priorities of Hillsdale and Branch county residents – including funding for students and schools, investment in rural broadband, and projects important to the region’s natural resources.
“With COVID-19 and economic shutdowns, the last six months have been challenging in countless ways,” Leutheuser said. “But I am proud to say we have reached an agreement on a balanced budget with no tax increases that funds priorities for our community and our state. This is a great example of what can happen when the governor and the Legislature work together, and I hope the governor continues that pattern in all matters important to the state moving forward.”
The budget includes $500,000 to study the Michindoh Aquifer. The aquifer provides drinking water for several counties in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio including parts of Branch and Hillsdale counties. The study will help determine how much water is in the aquifer and where it’s located, providing vital information to safeguard this precious natural resource.
The budget prioritizes education, preserving the full minimum $8,111-per student foundation allowance – plus a one-time additional payment expected to equal about $65 per student.
The school aid budget also includes a program that would allow new teachers to receive a one-time $1,500 payment as they embark on their careers in education. Students are supported through a variety of programs – including career and technical education – and a $5.6 million increase for student mental health initiatives.
The budget provides more than $14 million for a grant program to expand broadband internet connectivity to underserved areas of the state.
“Dependable internet access is critical for education, business and many activities in our daily lives,” Leutheuser said. “This program will help more Michigan residents become better connected to the services they need.”
Leutheuser noted the new budget also includes resources for employees in Michigan prisons who need and deserve additional support. The plan headed to the governor includes $4 million to train additional corrections officers and address attrition. Corrections employees have been put under tremendous stress by the coronavirus. The budget also includes an additional $500,000 to support employee wellness programs.
“Michigan taxpayers deserve a state government that respects their sacrifices, meets today’s pressing needs and still saves for the future,” Leutheuser said.
For more than five months now, one person – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer – has held unprecedented and virtually unchecked power over the daily lives of 10 million people in Michigan. And there’s no end in sight – the governor shows no intention of giving up her unilateral power anytime soon, and won’t say if and when she will restore the representative form of government our state and nation are built upon
Rep. Eric Leutheuser has scheduled a tele-town hall for Monday, August 31st – an opportunity for the residents of Hillsdale and Branch counties to ask questions, provide feedback and get an update on important events at the state Capitol.