Whitmer releases $74.1 billion Michigan budget plan for next fiscal year

Balancing a mix of one-time funding with ongoing revenue streams, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer released her annual state budget recommendation for Michigan for the 2022-23 fiscal year. It calls for a total of $74.1 billion in total spending.

The massive spending recommendation includes $18.4 billion for Michigan schools, the largest increase for the state's education budget in over 20 years, the governor said. 

Also contained within Whitmer's spending plan is several hundred million dollars in public health spending like expanded dental access and assisted food and nutritional support for needy families, as well as more than a billion dollars in infrastructure improvements. Economic and workforce development programs also received close to $2 billion in funding.

 "With the added revenues available to us and the strong support we have received from the federal government, this is a unique opportunity to transform our state for years to come," said State Budget Director Christopher Harkins. "I look forward to working with the legislature over the next few months to ensure we get a budget into place by the June 30 deadline that makes the most out of this opportunity." 

The budget plan would also add to the state's revenue-sharing between cities, villages, and townships, as well as a proposed $51.8 million deposit into Michigan's rainy day fund, bringing it up to $1.5 billion.

Harkins delivered the budget recommendation to a joint session of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees Wednesday morning. 

Whitmer outlined plans to cut taxes for seniors and working families and increase the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit during her State of the State address in late January. 

"The budget I put forward today delivers on those tax cuts and makes strong investments in the kitchen-table issues that make a real difference in people’s lives," she said.

In addition to calling for sizable funding hikes, she proposed new initiatives. They include creating a $1 billion school infrastructure modernization fund — $170 million in grants would be dispersed in the next fiscal year — and spending $200 million to help universities and community colleges make infrastructure upgrades.

The governor also requested $500 million to replenish a new fund that was used to award incentives for General Motors to convert a factory to make electric pickup tracks and to build a new battery cell plant in Michigan.

In building the proposal, her administration cited a $7 billion balance that was carried forward into the current fiscal year. The money would be directed toward "one-time" expenditures this budget year, next fiscal year or in future years.

Whitmer, for example, asked for $1.5 billion to give a $2,000 bonus to all preK-12 educators and non-instructional staff in 2022 and 2023. Teachers and certified staff such as counselors, social workers and nurses would get $3,000 in 2024 and $4,000 in 2025 amid educator shortages.

She sought $600 million to award competitive college scholarships to would-be teachers, stipends to student teachers and grants to districts and regional partners with plans to recruit, train and retain teachers from their own communities.

Republican lawmakers and the governor will iron out the budget in coming months. Republicans already have said they favor broader tax relief than Whitmer’s targeted cuts, such as a reduction in the income tax.

The Associated Press contributed to this report