Gretchen Whitmer at State of the State

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is focusing on education, healthcare, and protecting Michigan’s water with the 2021 budget.

The governor’s office said the state’s general fund is about the same level as it was more than 20 years ago.

“This is a thoughtful budget that focuses on increased funding for education and skill development, providing for the health and needs of working families, and protecting Michigan’s water,”  Whitmer said. “Our future depends on making strong investments in these core priorities, and while we cannot correct decades of underfunding overnight, particularly in the area of education, this budget builds on last year’s budget to provide additional funding in these critical areas.”

The proposed budget adds up to $61.9 billion, which is up by 3.9% from the current fiscal year. That includes the general fund total going up by 5.8% and the school aid fund is up by 4.9%.

The state budget office said the increase in the general fund spending comes from Medicaid costs increases, federal match rate changes, and declining restricted fund revenues for the state health department.

The budget is also under strain after nearly $2 billion in tax cuts for businesses put in place in 2011 and mounting liabilities the state is facing due to major lawsuits filed against state government during the last administration, according to the governor.

“This is a strong budget recommendation with some key investments in needed areas,” State Budget Director Chris Kolb said. “There’s more work to do to address the large structural problems and we have to change the mentality that led to hundreds of millions in spending on the last day of a lame duck legislature. This budget was put together to reflect the governor’s priorities around education, health care, and the environment, but past decisions from Republican-controlled legislatures have severely hampered our ability to invest more broadly in things that matter to the people of Michigan.”

The governor is recommending investments in public education, which is the largest funding increase for classroom operations in 20 years.

Funding per pupil will increase from $150 to $255. This is expected to reduce the gap between the highest and lowest funded districts to $343 per pupil.

The budget also includes $42 million to expand access to preschool programming for children who need it most.

Teachers are getting some help as each one will get $250 for classroom supplies.

Funding will also be designated for eliminating all school lunch debt for Michigan students.

The governor's budget provides $37 million to the Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies programs that support healthy pregnancies and expanded support for interventions.

The 2021 budge will give $27 million to expand access to childcare by increasing the income limit from 130% to 150% of the federal poverty level. It will expand childcare services to an estimated 5,900 children.

State employees will get up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave if they are the parent of a newborn or newly adopted child.

The budget is also calling for investments for environmental change and clean water. That will include $40 million in grants for local governments that will go toward planning and preventing negative climate changes like high water levels.

The budget is giving $40 million to grants for school districts to improve safety by replacing air and water filters, lead and asbestos abatement, and other upgrades.

Twenty million dollars will be given to rapid response to environmental contamination across the state.

Farmers will get $10 to mitigate toxic algal blooms in the Great Lakes and impaired watersheds.

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