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Gov. Whitmer Signs Historic Education Budget Providing Free School Meals, First Steps Toward Free Pre-K for All


July 20, 2023 



Gov. Whitmer Signs Historic Education Budget Providing Free School Meals, First Steps Toward Free Pre-K for All

FY24 budget supports student success, lowers costs, and establishes a rainy day fund for schools


LANSING, Mich.— Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the bipartisan education budget for fiscal year 2024 that makes the highest state per-student investment in Michigan history, ensures all public school students get free breakfast and lunch, and takes the first step toward free pre-K for all 4-year-olds.


Senate Bill 173 will improve student success through tutoring, before and after school programming, literacy support; and prioritizes mental health resources so students succeed in the classroom.


“Every Michigan child deserves a chance to pursue their potential and build a bright future. This historic education budget will make that possible,” said Governor Whitmer. “This budget puts students first and supports parents by expanding access to free pre-K, providing free breakfast and lunch to all public school students, and improving higher education. Additionally, the budget makes Michigan one of the lowest-cost states to become a teacher, with tuition-free training, student loan repayment, and stipends for those who are completing their student teaching. I am so grateful to the new leadership in the legislature for getting this done. Let’s work together to help anyone ‘make it’ in Michigan.”


“This historic education budget reaffirms and strengthens our investments in students, educators, and families,” said Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II. “With monumental investments in out-of-school programs, free breakfast and lunch, and the first steps towards Pre-K for all, this budget will help more students get the resources they need to reach their potential. It will make a difference for students in every corner of our state—including my own kids. I am proud of how this budget delivers for Michiganders, and I will keep working alongside Governor Whitmer to help future generations live out bright futures right here in Michigan.”


“With this budget, we are making a pledge to every Michigan child that they will have the resources, environment, and guidance to succeed on any path they choose,” said Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids). “We’re bringing new approaches to age-old problems, like supporting intervention programs that help kids with specific challenges, ensuring every student has a meal to eat during the school day, and making teacher education more affordable. The legislation being signed today will have both an immediate impact and a generational one, and I am tremendously proud to be leading a Senate that has been so diligent in delivering for the families of Michigan.” 


“Our students, parents, and teachers are the ultimate experts on what our education system needs, and that’s why throughout the budget process, my colleagues and I put them at the forefront of our discussions and our decision-making,” said state Senator Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown Township). “We have heeded their calls for support, equity, and innovation, and I’m incredibly proud of the historic investments, transformative programs, and concrete solutions that are included in the education budget that was signed today.”


“Michigan’s people are our greatest resource, and when we invest in our kids, we invest in our future,” said state Rep. Angela Witwer (D-Delta Township), chair of the House Appropriations Committee. “I’m particularly proud that this budget invests in transportation to help rural students get to and from school, ensuring that more money stays in rural classrooms, and free breakfast and lunch for every public school student. The investments this budget makes throughout the state will help more children become happy, healthy, educated, prosperous adults, lowering our state’s health care costs, making our economy more vibrant and supplying the strong workforce of tomorrow.”


“This year, we passed yet another historic investment in Michigan schools and students, one that is truly transformative,” said state Rep. Regina Weiss (D-Oak Park), chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on School Aid and Education. “In prior years, we closed the funding gap and increased the foundation allowance to its highest level. This year, we further increased per-pupil funding, fully funded the special education foundation allowance, and provided more support for at-risk students. I am so proud of the work we’ve done and will continue to do on behalf of Michigan kids.”


“From preschool to postsecondary, the education budget makes strategic investments that will make a difference in the lives of all Michiganders pursing an education,” said State Budget Director Christopher Harkins. “This budget invests in every classroom; continues to support our current and future educators; increases funding to state universities and community colleges to prepare our future workforce; and practices fiscal responsibility by setting resources aside in a new rainy day fund for schools. This budget invests in our young people which is the most valuable investment for the future success of our state.”


Getting Kids Back on Track & Supporting Student Success

The budget continues historic public education investments, including:


Pre-K-12 Education

  • $611 million to increase per-pupil funding by 5%, an additional $458 per student, for a total of $9,608 per-pupil. Per-pupil funding is up 22% since the Governor took office.
  • $450 million deposit into a new rainy day fund for schools, setting aside resources for future needs and shoring up the long-term financial stability of the state’s public education system.
  • $370 million to support teachers, including continued support for the MI Future Educator Fellowship (which provides a tuition free path for college students to become certified teachers) and funds to retain and develop existing teachers through mentoring programs.
  • $328 million for mental health and school safety.
  • $254.6 million to expand free pre-K for up to 5,600 kids, working towards Pre-K for All by the end of the Governor’s second term, saving families $10,000 a year and putting kids on the path to a brighter future.
  • $204.5 million increase, for a total of $952 million, in funding for academically at-risk, economically disadvantaged students.
  • $160 million to provide all 1.4 million public school students free breakfast and lunch.
  • $150 million for individualized tutoring or academic support through the MI Kids Back on Track program.
  • $140.3 million to continue expanded support for special education students, providing a full foundation allowance plus required cost reimbursements for each student.
  • $125 million to fund matching grants for school districts to modernize their bus fleet by switching over to electric vehicles.
  • $94.4 million for literacy-related programs and activities in Detroit’s public schools.
  • $25.5 million to help students reach their full academic potential, including expansion of existing payments for literacy grants and literacy coaches.
  • $25 million supporting new math intervention programs.
  • $25 million for additional supports for vocational education and career and technical education equipment upgrades.
  • $13.3 million to provide a 50% increase in funding for English language learners. 

“This is another outstanding budget, one that again works hard on funding adequacy and equity,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. “In addition to a 5 percent foundation allowance increase, big percentage increases for the education of students with disabilities and English learners, and additional funding earmarked for staff compensation, the budget funds greater flexibility and continued expansion of the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) program toward universally accessible pre-school, the implementation of the governor’s MI Kids Back on Track tutoring program for children who are behind in reading or math, universal school meals for students, and an opportunity index to fund high percentages of economically disadvantaged students. The budget also funds mentoring for new teachers, new counselors, and new administrators, as well as training for school board members, and transportation reimbursement to help address the cost of transportation, especially for rural districts whose per-rider costs are high. In the 30 years since Proposal A to change the school funding system, Michigan hasn’t had two years of back-to-back funding increases close to FY23 and FY24. Kudos to the governor and state legislature for their work, among that of many others, on the budget front.” 


“This latest bipartisan education budget will help continue the progress we’re making in addressing the educator shortage, expanding mental health resources for students, and working to provide more opportunities for every Michigan student,” said Chandra Madafferi, a teacher from Oakland County and president of the Michigan Education Association. “There are still plenty of challenges we must tackle together, and we are on the right track. Michigan educators are excited to continue working closely with parents, state officials and local leaders to create a brighter future for Michigan students.”


“We are pleased with the Fiscal Year 2024 budget that recognizes students with disabilities as whole children, paving the way for appropriation of 100% of the per pupil foundation allowance to districts,” said AAoM President & CEO Colleen Allen. “This gives us the opportunity to address major gaps in our education system and change the trajectory of many students’ lives by providing adequate and equitable funding through our school finance system. We’d like to thank Governor Whitmer and Senator Darrin Camilleri, Chair of the K12 Appropriations Subcommittee for all their hard work to push this funding forward.”


“The GSRP funding included in this budget is an investment in today's children, who are also tomorrow's workforce here in Michigan, said Carrie Rosingana, CEO of Capital Area Michigan Works! and chair of the PreK for All Action Team. “By expanding access to pre-K for more kids and supporting new GSRP classrooms this announcement is a reflection of the state’s continued focus on lowering costs for families, supporting early learning, and investing in the growth and retention of early childhood professionals in Michigan.”  


“I’ve spoken to many superintendents across the state and there is a resounding appreciation for the education funding in this year’s state budget,” said Dr. Tina Kerr, MASA Executive Director. “These dollars are critical to helping our districts address student and staff mental health, increase school safety measures, and provide specialized learning opportunities. It is essential that public education be funded at this level both now and in the future so that our schools can continue to prepare our students for their own success and for Michigan’s future.” 


“Healthy School Meals for All will be transformational for Michigan’s students and families,” said Collin McDonough, Director of Michigan Government Relations at the American Heart Association. “Not only will it help students learn—no one can focus on an empty stomach—it will help reduce the risk for chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Proper nutrition is a key component of a heart-healthy lifestyle, and having no-cost breakfast and lunch will ensure our students have what they need to succeed inside and outside the classroom. We applaud Governor Whitmer, the state legislature, the Michigan Department of Education, our partner organizations No Kid Hungry Michigan and the School Nutrition Association of Michigan, and the Michigan School Meals Coalition for their tireless work to take this program from an idea to reality.” 


“For years, The Alliance has advocated for a budget that invests in equity and supports the individual needs of every Michigan child,” said Peter Spadafore, Executive Director of the Michigan Alliance for Student Opportunity. “This budget creates the roadmap for achieving that goal while making significant investments in our most vulnerable learners.”


Higher Education & Workforce Development

  • A 5% ongoing increase for university and community college operations.
  • $112 million in Infrastructure, Technology, Equipment Maintenance, and Safety (ITEMS)funding to assist community colleges and universities improve existing facilities, infrastructure, technology, and campus security.
  • $50 million additional investment for the ongoing costs of the Michigan Achievement Scholarship, lowering costs by thousands for students, bringing the FY24 investment to $300 million.
  • $10 million to community colleges and public universities for critical incident mapping to help with campus safety.
  • Up to $10 million annually to market the Michigan Achievement Scholarship, to promote lower costs for college degrees and credentials.
  • $10 million to support adult postsecondary completions. 


“Michigan’s 15 public universities and the more than quarter million students they serve will greatly benefit from the budget plan Gov. Whitmer and legislative leaders have crafted,” said Dan Hurley, CEO of the Michigan Association of State Universities. “A five percent increase for university operations and an additional $50 million for students receiving the Michigan Achievement Scholarship are among the investments that will improve college affordability for families, the state’s talent pipeline, and the economic prosperity of Michigan.” 


"Michigan Community Colleges are proud to play a critical role in the state's talent development strategy," said Dr. Beverly Walker-Griffea, President of Mott Community College and chair of the Michigan Community College Association board. "We are grateful for the State’s ongoing investment in the operations of community colleges. We are particularly thrilled about dedicated funding to lower the eligibility age for Michigan Reconnect from 25 to 21. This will be a game-changer in creating a tuition-free pathway to an associate degree at any one of Michigan’s 31 community and tribal colleges." 


"Traverse Connect is thrilled to see continued investment in talent development programs like Michigan Reconnect in this budget, along with new incentives for research and development to help keep our state on the cutting edge of freshwater innovation," said Warren Call, President and CEO of Traverse Connect.


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