How Michigan’s New State Budget Will Benefit Northern Michigan
On Thursday, June 12, the Michigan legislature passed a $37 million general budget for fiscal year 2015. This marks the fourth budget in four years that has been passed by the legislature before its traditional summer recess in mid-June. The budget contains a number of Alliance supported initiatives that made the cut, and will be signed into the next budget by Governor Rick Snyder.
Here is a quick breakdown on some of the items that will benefit northern Michigan:
- Rural OB Services – The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance and our hospital partners were successful in restoring funding for rural OB services in northern Michigan at last years level of nearly $37 million. The cuts would have been devastating not only for prenatal and delivery services in our region, but also for economic development, as was outlined [here].
- K-12 Education Funding – the inequity in school foundation allowances between higher funded and lower funded schools has been a thorn in the side of northern Michigan leaders for decades. With the leadership of Senator Howard Walker (R-Traverse City) and support from school leaders, parents, and the Chamber Alliance, this year’s K-12 education budget will allow for a $175 increase for schools that receive the lowest amount per pupil, which includes the majority of schools in northern Michigan. This is slightly more than two times the increase for higher funded school districts, and continues to close the gap in per pupil funding equity for schools. The gap is now well under $1,000. This is a big win for northern Michigan, and many thanks should be given to Senator Walker, who was truly a stalwart on this issue in Lansing.
- Early Childhood Education, Great Start Readiness Program – the budget includes $65 million dollars in 2015 for 10,000 pre-school aged children in one of the largest investments in early childhood education in the country. With the additional $65 million that was included in the budget for this current year, that makes $130 million in early childhood investment. This is a long term investment whose dividends will be felt years down the road.
- Pure Michigan – The legislature continued to fund the Pure Michigan campaign at $29 million as in the previous budget. A $2 million increase that was proposed by the Governor and agreed to by the House and Senate was taken out during the conference committee.
- Regional Prosperity Grants – the legislature continued the ongoing $2.5 million in grant funding for regional economic and workforce development programming that is an increasing need for numerous business sectors across the state. The legislature included in this years’ budget a one-time bump of $1 million, bringing the regional prosperity grant total for next year to $3.5 million.