LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Rick Outman on Wednesday voted to support a K-12 school budget that would increase school funding to a record $17 billion.
“Last year’s budget cycle was exceptionally difficult given the unknown effects of the coronavirus at the time, but we were able to tighten our belts and get by,” said Outman, R-Six Lakes. “This year, we had some more money to work with as our economy began to rebound, but that doesn’t mean we can start swiping the card. We need to carefully consider where funding can be used most effectively and make meaningful investments that will benefit families across the state.”
In a 33-1 vote, the Senate approved House Bill 4411, the $17 billion-dollar 2022 School Aid Budget. Included in the legislation is an increase of nearly $600 per student for some schools. Under the plan, every school in Michigan will receive at least $8,700 per student and every school district across Michigan will receive the same amount in minimum per-pupil foundation allowance funding from the state — something the Legislature has been working to accomplish and an effort that Outman has long supported.
“Leveling the playing field for districts across the state has been a priority of mine and something we’ve really tried to focus on in recent budgets,” Outman said. “I’m glad to see we’ve finally reached this milestone and am proud of these significant investments in Michigan students.”
Also included in the bill is nearly $170 million to help schools improve access to early education, improve the efficiency and effectiveness of teachers by reducing classroom sizes, help districts hire qualified teachers along with additional funding to help schools modernize operations and recover from the learning loss and mental health issues caused by the global pandemic.
The Senate plan also recognizes the importance of reading milestones and includes a $155 million reading scholarship program for students between kindergarten and fifth grade who struggle with reading proficiency. The program would provide up to $1,000 for eligible students for reading materials, literacy programs, and tutoring services.
“Students and teachers were among those of us who were hit hardest by the pandemic,” Outman said. “Teachers across the state stepped up as we made the rapid turn to remote learning, and students did their best to focus on school while the unknowns of COVID-19 weighed on them tremendously. We need to make sure we get schools the help they need to get everyone back on track and into a healthy mindset again. I believe these funds will help make major headway toward that goal.
“This budget reflects many of our priorities, while still being cautiously optimistic moving forward,” Outman said.
HB 4411 now goes to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for approval.