State Rep. Sarah Lightner today voted for a state budget plan that prioritizes the everyday needs of Michigan families while leaving room for billions of dollars in potential tax relief to help address inflation.
Lightner, of Springport, said the budget makes a record investment in education – which is more important than ever as children continue to catch up on learning lost during the pandemic. It also makes about $3 billion in critical one-time investments while paying off about $2.6 billion in overall debt.
“With state revenue at a historic level, we are able to make significant investments in education, workforce development, infrastructure and mental health while still leaving money unallocated – so there’s still plenty of room for tax relief,” Lightner said. “I will continue fighting to lower taxes to relieve some of the pressure brought on by skyrocketing prices at the gas station and grocery store.”
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. The Great Start Readiness Program for at-risk preschoolers will also receive $9,150 per child. 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. 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.
- 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. To help bring law enforcement and community members together, $16 million will support community policing initiatives, and $7.5 million will replicate Detroit’s successful Police Athletic League in other communities, helping foster relationships between police and the people they serve. 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.
- 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.
- Saving taxpayer dollars: Strategic investment, saving, and debt reduction in the budget 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 efforts. A $180 million deposit will bring the balance of the state’s “rainy-day fund” above $1.5 billion. The plan puts down a total of 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.
The budget, contained in House Bill 5783 and Senate Bill 845, now advances to the governor for her expected signature.
State Rep. Sarah Lightner and other members of the Michigan Task Force on Juvenile Justice Reform today released their recommendations to provide better outcomes for young people in the criminal justice system and improve public safety.