Gov. Whitmer's $60.2B 2020 budget focuses on roads, education & clean water

Governor Gretchen Whitmer
Posted at 6:50 AM, Mar 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-05 17:20:34-05

(WXYZ) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's 2020 budget will focus on roads, education and clean water.

“I’ve heard from people all across Michigan and this budget reflects the priorities they have shared,” Gov. Whitmer said. “People are tired of driving on crumbling and unsafe roads and bridges, they want to turn on their tap and know that the water is clean and safe, and they want a strong educational system that leads to opportunity and a good job.”

The budget recommendation totals $60.2 billion, up 3.6 percent from the current fiscal year 2019 budget.

“The fact that our General Fund remains at the exact same level it was 20 years ago says a lot about why we are facing some of the challenges we are today,” said State Budget Director Chris Kolb. “Everyone agrees that more revenue is needed to fix our roads and I am looking forward to working with the Legislature to make that happen.”

Gov. Whitmer’s budget proposal provides funding to fix the roads through three 15-cent motor fuel tax increases from October 1, 2019 through October 1, 2020, with tax relief provided to lower income, working families. The plan generates $2.5 billion in new annual revenue, which will be deposited into a new Fixing Michigan Roads Fund and allocated to our most highly traveled and commercially important roads, at both the state and local levels.

“We have the worst roads in the country, and I am proposing a plan that will permanently fix our roads while keeping the costs fair for seniors and low-income families,” added Gov. Whitmer. “I know this won’t be easy, but with one historic vote we can make the investments that are necessary to finally start fixing the damn roads.”

This budget recommendation is similarly focused on education and championing students through strategic investments at every stage of their education. The Governor proposes $15.4 billion for the state’s K-12 schools, with $507 million in additional investments for a weighted foundation allowance which translates to the biggest increase for school operations in a generation of students

Michigan colleges and universities would receive a 3 percent increase in funding under the budget recommendation to support learning and keep tuition increases down, with tuition restraint set at 3.2 percent. In addition, $50 million is proposed in the current fiscal year and another $50 million next fiscal year for the creation of the Michigan Reconnect Program to provide opportunities for those seeking training or certification in specialized careers, offering eligible participants tuition-free training toward their certification or credentials.

The Michigan Republican Part released this statement in response to Whitmer's budget.

“Governor Whitmer pledged to ‘Build a Better Michigan’. Apparently, that construction is being done with broken promises. Last November, Michigan voters took the Governor at her word when she said that a 20-cent gas increase was ‘ridiculous’. Today she has proposed a 45-cent increase. This would make Michigan’s gas tax the highest in U.S. history and cripple our economy. This along with the Governor's 41% tax increase on over 100,000 small businesses would massively affect the cost of living in the state. While our roads may improve, they would simply end up as well paved pathways for jobs and people to leave Michigan."

Other highlights of the fiscal year 2020 Executive Budget Recommendation include:

  • $13.9 million General Fund in the Health and Human Services budget to enhance monitoring of and responsiveness to the human impacts of emerging public health threats, including contaminated drinking water.
  • $4 million General Fund to support the expansion of the Double-Up Food Bucks program from 65 counties to all 83 Michigan counties. Double-Up Food Bucks is a program which provides a dollar for dollar match up to $20 per day for those on food assistance to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables produced by our state’s farmers.
  • $8.6 million General Fund for multiple investments in our foster care and child welfare system to protect Michigan’s most vulnerable children and keep them together with their parents when possible.
  • $10.5 million General Fund to support a corrections officer academy with an expected graduating class of 408 to address higher than anticipated attrition.
  • $4.5 million General Fund to support the purchase of 6,619 new electronic tether devices to improve the supervision of offenders for the Department of Corrections, as current tether devices will no longer function after this year.
  • $8.6 million General Fund to support a new trooper recruit school with the anticipation of graduating 50 new troopers, maintaining Michigan State Police enlisted strength at approximately 2,100.
  • $14.1 million General Fund for the Michigan Public Safety Communications System to enhance operation of the secure communications network utilized by the state’s first responders at both the state and local levels.
  • Revenue sharing increases of 3 percent for counties and for cities, villages, and townships to support the operations and revitalization of local governments. Including constitutional payments, total revenue sharing payments are projected to increase by over $40 million.
  • $2.3 million General Fund to continue testing and research on Chronic Wasting Disease in Michigan’s deer population.
  • $450,000 General Fund for the Judiciary to expand online dispute resolution services from 16 counties to all 83 counties.
  • $1.4 million General Fund for a three-year project to inventory hazardous materials pipelines that cross waterways in Michigan.
  • $9.6 million General Fund to carry out functions related to the passage of proposal 2, which creates an independent citizen redistricting commission for state legislative and congressional districts, and proposal 3, which establishes several key voting rights.
  • $52.9 million General Fund for 14 information technology projects to improve government operations and services to residents of the state, including projects to improve tax systems, permitting activities related to clean air and water, licensing and inspection systems, and in-car video streaming for State Police troopers to enable real-time data sharing.

A new supplemental budget request for the current fiscal year was also introduced today, which includes $120 million to improve drinking water infrastructure to pursue the vision for clean and safe water for every Michigander.

The state's new fiscal year will begin Oct. 1, 2019.