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Senate passes 2023 budget bills

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Wayne Schmidt, who chairs the appropriations subcommittees on K-12 education and transportation, joined his colleagues on Friday in voting to approve the fiscal year 2023 state budget.

“State revenues have been positive, and we’re focused on using this money to make government work better for all Michiganders,” said Schmidt, R-Traverse City. “This budget builds on years of commitment to K-12 education, transportation and infrastructure repairs and growing our economy — while supporting efforts to improve our state for all ages and for generations to come.”

Senate Bill 845 includes a nearly $2.6 billion increase in K-12 education funding from last year, moving the total K-12 school support to $19.6 billion. The bill dedicates $630.5 million to increase the minimum foundation allowance to a total of $9,150 per student.

The K-12 budget also includes $305 million in scholarship funding to help address critical teacher shortages facing the state and a $295 million funding line to address student mental health and boost Michigan’s commitment to increasing access to mental health care.

“I’ve pushed for increases in mental health funding for students and stressed the importance of counselors and school-based mental health clinics,” Schmidt said. “The pandemic highlighted the need for larger investments in student mental health, and I am encouraged to see this funding included so we can connect students to resources.”

The K-12 budget also includes $33 million for school-based health clinics, $175 million to support current school employees in earning a teaching certificate, $52 million for grants to help schools address learning loss and a boost to the 10 Cents a Meal Program, which Schmidt helped champion.

The Senate also passed House Bill 5783, which includes, among other measures, the following items:

  • $2.3 billion to help fix local roads and bridges.
  • $1.7 billion to fix state highway roadways and bridges.
  • $414.5 million to maintain wage increases for direct care workers.
  • $40 million for the Pure Michigan tourism campaign.

In addition to funding schools and other state needs, the budget also contains projects specific to Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, such as:

  • $3 million for the Northern Lakes Community Mental Health Authority, in partnership with Munson Healthcare, to build and staff a crisis stabilization unit along with two crisis residential units.
  • $7 million to Traverse City Senior Center to build a multi-use senior and community center to serve area residents.
  • $1.9 million for Mackinac Straits Health System’s spinal robotics program, including a fellowship-trained robotic spine surgeon dedicated to providing spinal care in the straits area.
  • $550,000 to replace 2.5 miles of rail at the former Kincheloe Air Force Base in Chippewa County. The current rail dates back nearly 100 years and provides transportation for propane distribution that assures affordable and reliable energy to the eastern Upper Peninsula and Northern Lower Michigan.
  • $6 million to help complete the Flats at Carriage Commons project. The joint effort between the Bay Area Transit Authority and Traverse City Housing Commission will also include 15 single-family homes to be developed by Habitat for Humanity of Grand Traverse, among other amenities when completed.
  • $35 million in one-time support for infrastructure and maintenance projects at Mackinac Island State Park.
  • $14 million for the Beaver Island Transportation Authority to purchase of a new ferry.
  • $1 million to continue the next steps of the Northern Michigan Rail Study. The purpose of the study is to identify improvements needed along the Ann Arbor to Traverse City corridor to maximize future freight and passenger rail opportunities.

“This budget outlines a number of priorities that Michigan families and businesses find important, and also includes funding for improvements to communities across the state,” Schmidt said. “I am proud to be able to bring home dollars to the 37th District. The projects funded will make a big difference for folks across northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.”

Both bills will now move to the governor’s desk for final approval.