LANSING, Mich. — The state Legislature passed a nearly $76 billion dollar budget very early Friday morning. The budget is a result of months of bipartisan work that both sides of the aisle and local stakeholders say they’re pleased it passed.
“We are really excited about this budget. It really is a historic agreement, and it's a great step forward in solving some of the challenges that are facing our schools and our kids," said Thomas Morgan, a communications consultant with the Michigan Education Association (MEA).
The MEA, which represents about 120,000 teachers and educational support staff across the state, said this new budget will help schools address challenges teachers and students have been dealing with since before the height of the pandemic.
“The biggest challenges are the continuing educator shortage, as well as student mental health and making sure that kids who need extra help catching up from the pandemic can get that help. Our students and our schools and our families need that help right now," Morgan said.
In addition to the record $19.6 billion that’s going towards schools, $2.3 billion will go towards fixing local roads and bridges, $750 million will go towards local governments’ pension obligations and another $325 million will go towards a new state mental health facility, an allocation that state Sen. Curtis Hertel said in an interview Friday he's very pleased to see.
“We have a lack of crisis beds," he said. "Teens end up in hospitals tied to emergency beds because there really is no place to set them. So we've been working for a long time to take the old McLaren site and make it a community mental health center for young people and those final investments are in this budget. So it's something I've been working on for the last four years, and I'm really proud to finally finish that project.”
Across the aisle, state Sen. Tom Barrett tells me he's pleased to see funding to help prevent veteran suicide and provide grants for cities and municipalities.
"We made strategic investments in paying down debt with this budget as well," Barrett said. "And we provided grants for local governments to also pay down some of their long-term debt to stabilize their long-term pension funds and other liabilities that they have so we don't have cities facing bankruptcy like the way Detroit did a decade or so ago."
This budget agreement leaves about $6.5 billion dollars unallocated. That’s money Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement she wants to use to help cut taxes for seniors and working families.
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