Michigan House Republicans
Rep. Lightner opposes cuts to school safety, irresponsible spending in state budget
RELEASE|June 27, 2024

State Rep. Sarah Lightner, the ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, today voted against a $82.5 billion spending plan she said prioritizes pet projects over the critical needs of Michigan residents.

Lightner, R-Springport, said the new state budget relies on a tax increase that has families, seniors and small businesses handing over more of their hard-earned money to the state. It also raids teachers’ retirement accounts to the tune of $670 million. Meanwhile, the budget drastically reduces school safety funding and ignores local roads that are badly in need of repair.

“The Democrats are taking more out of our paychecks and risking the future retirements of our teachers – and for what? Not to fix our crumbling roads or fund school safety,” Lightner said. “Their budget is filled with funding for green energy projects, political spending that benefits a privileged few, and new bureaucratic programs that grow the size of government.”

The new budget cuts school safety and mental health grant funding by more than $300 million, leaving just $26.5 million to help schools fund resource officers, mental health services, and other critical programs that protect kids.

“Eliminating funding for school safety and mental health initiatives is a huge mistake,” Lightner said. “Our children deserve to feel safe and supported in their learning environments, and drastically cutting these essential resources puts their well-being at risk.”

The budget also phases out funding for the Michigan Tuition Grant program, which provides critical financial support to approximately 15,000 students across the state who attend independent colleges and universities like Spring Arbor University, Baker College and Albion College.

Pet projects like a $7.5 million drone program, $3 million in incentives for people who purchase e-bikes, and a $25 million program to build state-owned EV charging stations received funding. A commission to coordinate a celebration marking the United States semiquincentennial two years from now also received $5 million.

The budget also funds hundreds of millions of dollars in pork projects that were added at the last minute, including $17 million for zoos in Lansing and Metro Detroit, $2.5 million for professional baseball stadiums, $5 million for a theater in Detroit, $18 million for various public and private sports facilities, $1.9 million for a pool in Saginaw, and $300,000 to cover public Wi-Fi in downtown Detroit.

Past recipients of these “enhancement” grants have misused state funding, including one prominent MEDC appointee who created a new business and then used a $20 million grant to pay for first-class plane tickets and a $4,500 coffee maker.

A $500 million earmark is included for the Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve (SOAR) fund, which funds handouts for big corporations that promise to invest in economic development projects, even though needed reforms to improve transparency and accountability have not been made.

“It’s irresponsible to continue pumping money into the SOAR fund and offer handouts to corporations without implementing transparency and accountability reforms,” Lightner said. “We cannot keep investing taxpayer dollars in companies that fail to deliver a meaningful return on investment.”

The new state budget for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 was pushed through the House early this morning in two party-line votes.


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