Lawmakers expect to return next week to finalize a tentative budget deal with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer that would end a two-month standoff over funding priorities in the state, restore money for isolated schools and autism services, and increase funding for school literacy coaches.
The deal moving forward in supplemental appropriations bills in the House and Senate would increase the total budget by $573.5 million, including an additional $70.5 million for the School Aid Fund and $44 million for higher education.
The agreement restores some line items vetoed by the governor in early October after Republican legislative leaders passed a budget without her input on the eve of the fiscal year deadline. As part of the deal, Whitmer got some of her priorities included in the spending package.
The bills would restore the following K-12 items that were vetoed by the governor:
— $35.0 million for the foundation allowance increase for public school academies
— $10.0 million for school safety grants
— $7.0 million for isolated or rural districts
— $1.6 million for added costs at strict discipline academies
— $750,000 for added costs of dropout recovery programs
— $350,000 for an autism intervention pilot project
— $300,000 for a multisensory education program
The bills would also restore $38 million for a higher education tuition grant program.
New items included in the budget deal would:
- Increase funding for early literacy coaches by $10.5 million, from $21.0 million to $31.5 million, increase grant funding from $75,000 to $112,500 per coach, and remove the requirement that intermediate school districts provide a 50% match in support of the coaches.
- Provide $5 million in grants for summer reading programs for third graders not proficient in reading.
- Increase Michigan Competitive Scholarships by $6.0 million to address anticipated program funding shortfalls.
Changes limiting the governor’s ability to use the state’s administrative board to move funding around within departments are also rumored to be part of the end bills, but specific language is still under development in the Legislature. Stay tuned for updates next week.