Whitmer presents the state budget
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s $80.7-billion budget will allow for free public education from preschool through community college and was presented to state lawmakers Wednesday for the 2025 fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gives fives after taking a photo with first-grade students after stopping in their classroom during a visit at Forest Park Elementary in Eastpointe on Monday, Aug. 28, 2023.
Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Press
Whitmer plans to make good on what she outlined in her State of the State address last month, including “lowering costs, improving education and ensuring that anyone and everyone can make it here in Michigan.” Additionally, her spending plan will provide tax relief for family caregivers and expand subsidies for companies that create jobs in Michigan.
LANSING − Gov. Gretchen Whitmer made expanding Michigan’s public education system a key focus of her spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year as she tries to make the state a magnet for growing families.
“Let’s show parents across the nation why they should come to the state of Michigan,” Whitmer said. “We’ll save you thousands on your child’s education and help you build a great quality of life at a good cost of living.”
Whitmer’s budget recommendations made clear the fiscal impact of her early childhood education plan on the state’s education department while also bringing into focus her ideas for funding family planning and child care.
In the coming months, lawmakers will decide which budget recommendations from Whitmer they want to adopt and which of their own they plan to pursue.
Department of Education budget slashed
Whitmer’s budget recommends $162.8 million for the Department of Education for the upcoming fiscal year, a 75% decrease from the department’s budget for the current fiscal year. The funding cut comes as Whitmer overhauled the department with the creation of a second department: the new Michigan Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement, and Potential (MiLEAP) with a mandate to expand early and postsecondary education in the state. Whitmer moved the Office of Great Start — focused on early learning and development — to MiLEAP, taking a big chunk out of the education department’s budget.
Whitmer said by combining disparate education programs across state government and placing them under MiLEAP’s purview, Michigan can achieve better education outcomes. “The State Department of Education still has an important role. But ensuring that we are really coordinated in an effort to upskill our population over the course of their lives and lower barriers to those skills really, I think, necessitated a new kind of structure in state government,” Whitmer said.
Funding for family planning
The spending plan from Whitmer would provide $26.6 million on programs to support reproductive and maternal health with more than half of the funds allocated for statewide family planning services, including the prevention of unintended pregnancies. Among the proposed spending areas, funds would also go to prenatal care for expecting mothers and doula services.
Building Michigan’s reputation as a desirable state for starting a family was a key focus for Whitmer and Budget Director Jen Flood. Whitmer kicked off her remarks to lawmakers by noting that Flood delivered a baby just three weeks prior to the presentation. At one point during the joint session of the state House and Senate appropriations committee, state Sen. Mallory McMorrow, D-Royal Oak, gave a shout-out to “baby budget director.” Flood said she wants to work with lawmakers to make Michigan the “best place” to raise a family.
Child care for child care workers
Under Whitmer’s budget proposal, those working at child care facilities would have access to up to three years’ free child care for their own families. Whitmer’s plan includes $60 million in one-time funding to support the free child care program. It’s unclear how many more workers would be expected to join the child care workforce as a result.
In fact, the program may prove most effective by retaining workers in the sector, said Deputy Budget Director Kyle Guerrant.
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