Gov. Gretchen Whitmer launched the process for developing next year’s state budget with a proposed spending plan that includes increases for education and weighted funding for students who are costlier to educate.
Whitmer is proposing a $415 million increase in K-12 funding and additional money for universities and community colleges.
Under the Whitmer plan, base per-pupil funding would increase $150-220 per student with additional dollars going toward special education, English language learners, and economically disadvantaged students.
MEA lobbyists will continue to monitor the budget closely throughout the appropriations process. The House and Senate will issue their budget proposals in the spring.
Below are the highlights of Whitmer’s recommendations:
- $290 million to increase base per-pupil funding to $8,336 for districts at the minimum (a $225 per pupil increase) and $8,679 for districts at the maximum (a $150 per pupil increase). This would reduce the gap between the highest and lowest funded districts to $343 per pupil.
- $60 million to increase state reimbursements for special education services. This would double last year’s additional state reimbursement and, including other state payments for special education services, bring total state funding for special education services to nearly $1.3 billion. This would help districts address the wide variety of needs for special education students, ranging from academic supports to one-on-one specialists.
- $60 million to provide additional supports for academically at-risk & economically disadvantaged pupils, an 11.5% increase over FY20. This would bring total funding for this purpose to $582 million. This funding would allow districts to provide additional instructional supports like tutoring and non-instructional supports like counseling to improve academic outcomes for these students.
- $5 million for additional payments for English Language Learner programs, a 38% increase over FY20. This would bring total funding for this purpose to $18 million and help support higher-cost student intervention services.
- Continue to fund literacy coaches and expand resources to improve training for other educators in best practices of literacy learning.
- $42 million to expand state-funded preschool programming. This new program would expand access to preschool programming for children living in high-poverty, high-academic need school districts. This expansion would provide services to an estimated 5,000 children, giving those children a strong foundation for their future academic success.
- $35.5 million to increase payments for state-funded preschool programs. The Great Start Readiness Program provides free preschool to 38,000 4-year-olds. The Executive Budget would raise the state payment for a full-day preschooler from $7,250 to $8,336 – the same level as the proposed K-12 base foundation allowance. This would be the first increase in rates since 2014.
- $40 million for school infrastructure. These one-time grants would support districts with air and water filter replacement, lead and asbestos abatement, heating and cooling modifications, building modifications, and other facility upgrades to provide students with safe, healthy learning environments.
- Transportation costs for small, isolated districts would be maintained at $7 million.
- Cyber Schools. A reduced funding level of approximately $24 million (20% off of the full foundation allowance) for the state’s cyber schools, in recognition of lower facility, maintenance, and transportation costs compared to brick-and-mortar schools.
- $25 million to reimburse teachers for out-of-pocket supply costs. Recognizing underfunded local supply budgets and the fact that most teachers spend their own money to supply their classrooms, the proposed budget would help to offset these costs through a $250 teacher supply reimbursement.
- Boiler Plate. The Governor’s recommendations include proposing the repeal of Section 164(h), which requires that additional compensation be tied to evaluation in collective bargaining agreements.
For higher education:
- 38.1 million in additional university operations funding (General Fund), representing a 2.5% increase over fiscal year 2020. This increase would be distributed across-the-board to provide planning stability for universities. Receipt of this additional funding would be contingent on universities holding tuition increases below 4.25% (equal to 2.5 times the projected inflation), in order to limit tuition cost increases for students and their families.
For community colleges:
- $8.1 million in additional community college operations funding (School Aid Fund), representing a 2.5% increase over fiscal year 2020. This increase would be distributed through the existing performance funding formula. Receipt of the funding increase would be contingent on colleges holding tuition increases below 4.25% (equal to 2.5 times the projected inflation), in order to limit tuition cost increases for students and their families.
- $35 million for the new Michigan Reconnect Grant program (funded from the Talent Investment Fund). This would provide grants for non-traditional students seeking training toward in-demand industry certifications or credentials. These funds are being recommended in a fiscal year 2020 supplemental appropriation bill to get the program up and running and will support the program through fiscal year 2021.