State’s new budget approved by lawmakers

LANSING, Mich.—State Sen. Kim LaSata voted in support of the state’s fiscal year 2020 budget, which was approved Tuesday and ahead of the Oct. 1 deadline.

“This is a good budget that makes significant funding increases to things Southwest Michigan families care about most, like schools, roads, public health and safety, and our natural resources,” said LaSata, R-Bainbridge Township. “All of these increases were made responsibly, with funds the state already has — demonstrating there is no need for a big tax increase to fund our priorities.”

Highlights of the budget include:

  • $5.4 billion for transportation — an increase of more than $2 billion since FY 2010;
  • $120 million in drinking water protections;
  • $13.3 million for state and local efforts to respond to public health hazards;
  • An increase in local government revenue sharing, and;
  • Additional funding to train more state troopers and corrections officers.

Last week the Legislature finalized the school budget, which invests more than $15.2 billion in K-12 education, and a foundation allowance boost of between $120 and $240 per pupil. Other funds for education included $522 million to help at-risk students, a $21.5 million increase in career and technical education funding, and a $60 million increase for special education.

LaSata, who is chairwoman of the Senate’s Universities and Community Colleges Appropriations Subcommittee, noted the budget increase to community colleges and universities this year is modest, but it is a realistic budget based on available resources.

“Funding for higher education in this budget is not what we would prefer in an ideal situation, however and importantly, it is still an increase over the previous year’s budget,” LaSata said. “That said, our priority of providing access to higher education is clear: we focused on funding scholarships that directly help students to lessen the burden of ever-increasing tuition costs. And at the end of the day, the higher education budget supports the mission of our community colleges and universities to produce successful graduates ready to meet the needs of employers and keep Michigan competitive.”

Some of the highlights of the Universities and Community Colleges budget include:

  • Increased funding for public universities and community colleges;
  • Investing over $32 million in the Michigan Competitive Scholarship program;
  • Dedicating $38 million in Michigan Tuition Grants, or $3,000 per student;
  • Over $93 million to reduce retirement obligations for our universities and community colleges; and
  • Fully funding the Indian Tuition Waiver program.

“It is my hope that the governor signs this budget before the deadline to avoid an unnecessary government shutdown,” LaSata said.

The budget bills will be presented to the governor this week for her consideration.