VanderWall supports balanced 2022 state budget plan

LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate this week approved a budget plan focused on building healthy families and communities, a healthier economy and a healthy future for the people of Michigan, Senate Health Policy and Human Services Chairman Curt VanderWall announced Wednesday.

“Senate Republicans committed to several priorities at the beginning of the year to make Michigan healthier,” said VanderWall, R-Ludington. “As chair of the health policy committee, I am pleased our fiscal year 2022 budget makes investments in our residents’ health after a very difficult year dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.”

Recognizing the tremendous strain placed on nursing homes during the pandemic, Senate Republicans have approved as part of the community health budget an additional $38 million to help them recover from the effects of COVID-19, along with $161 million for wage increases for direct care workers and front-line workers at child care institutions. An additional $20 million is provided to assist students dealing with mental health challenges.

The 17-bill budget plan would invest $15.8 billion in K-12 education, an increase of $249 million. It would increase the minimum foundation allowance by $250 to $8,361 per pupil and boost preschool funding by $32 million to help reduce class sizes. It also dedicates $1.7 billion to help cover the costs of school employee retirement.

The budget also includes $72 million for competitive and need-based scholarships for higher education students, $40 million in the Going Pro program to provide grants to support employee training, $30 million for the Michigan Reconnect program to provide tuition-free community college and training, and $77 million to provide child care for more families.

The bills prioritize more revenue sharing funding for local governments, more resources for state road and bridge construction, $2.2 billion for local transportation infrastructure projects, a 50% boost for grants to help struggling veterans with expenses, and a new program to incentivize local governments to reduce their long-term debts.

SBs 77 and 79-94 now head to the House of Representatives for consideration.