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Whitmer wraps up “unusual process” by signing budget

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed a $62.7 billion state budget for the new fiscal year that begins Thursday.

The budget did not reduce funds for schools or for local governments. That’s despite the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

State Budget Director Chris Kolb said that was in large part due to federal assistance to help deal with the COVID emergency.

“Those stimulus checks helped. Those unemployment enhancement checks really helped. And people utilized that to buy needed services around our state, and that boosted us on income taxes and sales taxes, and we need that type of stimulation again,” he said.

The budget includes a small increase in per-pupil funding and COVID-related hazard pay for teachers.

Also, money to help train workers for careers in skilled trades, which has been a Whitmer priority.

The process was abbreviated and the negotiations were largely behind closed doors. But the governor cheered the fact that Democrats and Republicans worked together to adopt a budget on time.

“We developed a budget amidst a global pandemic, amidst all of these challenges, and it is a budget that will move Michigan forward. And it was robustly supported in a bipartisan way, which in this current political climate is quite a feat,” said Whitmer.

Whitmer said she’s pleased the budget includes money for a program to help reduce African-American infant mortality rates.

The governor said she’s holding out hope that Washington can come together on another COVID-19 relief bill to help Michigan and other states with their fiscal challenges in the coming budget year.

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Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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