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Whitmer proposes $61.9 billion budget with boost in school funding

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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has proposed a $61.9 billion state budget, including what she says would be the biggest increase for Michigan classroom operations in 20 years.

The plan unveiled Thursday would boost overall spending by 3.9%. The Democrat proposes increasing base per-student funding by $225, or 2.8%, for most schools. She also proposes a $60 million boost for special education and a $60 million increase for academically at-risk and economically disadvantaged students.

At a presentation to a joint session of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, state budget director Chris Kolb said Whitmer's FY 2021 budget invests in three critical areas:  education and skills, health and family, and environment, climate and water.

"We've heard from local communities who are dealing with climate, high water, and other impacts of a changing environment," said Kolb.

Kolb said they're creating a $40 million Infrastructure Resilience grants program to  local governments to plan for and address the negative impacts of Michigan's changing climate. 

The budget also provides for 12 weeks of paid parental leave for Michigan state employees and a 2.5% increase in operations funding for both universities and community colleges.

Whitmer again is seeking funding for her proposed Reconnect program to provide tuition-free community college or technical training to nontraditional students age 25 and older who don't have an associate's or bachelor's degree.

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The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting.
Virginia Gordan has been a part-time reporter at Michigan Radio since fall 2013. She has a general beat covering news topics from across the state.
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