Need to build on 2021 bipartisan successes

As we outline our plans for 2022, we should look to build on the bipartisan achievements of 2021. Although we continued to face challenges last year, we worked together to fight COVID-19, prepare our students for success, get people back to work, support our small businesses, and keep our communities safe.

While my Senate Republican colleagues and I worked hard to push back against the governor’s unilateral mandates that hurt our economy and our children’s education, we were able to find common ground on a balanced budget that puts a priority on improving the lives of all Michigan families and gets students back in the classroom — all without raising taxes.

We enacted a historic K-12 school budget that brought every Michigan school district’s foundation allowance up to at least $8,700 per student. This means that — for the first time ever — every district in our state is now getting the same amount in minimum per-pupil foundation allowance funding.

We included critical funding to tackle learning loss, ensure classrooms are safe, and address student mental health concerns.

The budget also featured $1.4 billion to lower rates and recruit more childcare workers, $190 million to repair or replace local bridges, $95 million for career training programs, $33 million to train new state police troopers and corrections officers, and increased funding for local governments to support our firefighters and police officers.

I was able to help secure millions of dollars in direct funding to enhance the lives of families in Monroe and Lenawee counties, such as $3.5 million for an east-west connection tunnel in Adrian, $2.9 million for additional road maintenance staff at the Monroe County Maintenance Facility, $300,000 for traffic safety during Michigan International Speedway race weekends, and $25 million for a pilot program in the western Lake Erie basin to increase the participation of agricultural lands using best management practices for water quality.

After four years of trying, I was also able to secure $2 million to improve the River Raisin National Battlefield Park with an integrative education center that Michigan State University projects will attract more than 600,000 visitors and serve over 100,000 K-12 students every year once it’s open.

Among the other achievements made last year, we enacted legislation expanding cancer-related worker’s compensation coverage to volunteer, part-time, paid on-call, and former firefighters — ensuring these local heroes get the medical care they need if they get cancer.

We also passed measures that would ensure Michigan residents have safe roads and bridges as well as healthy drinking water for generations to come.

Senate Bill 529 would utilize $1.3 billion in one-time federal funds to repair bridges across the state that are in serious or critical condition. SB 565 would invest $3.34 billion to preserve and protect Michigan’s water quality, infrastructure and environment — including $1 billion to replace lead pipes across the state and $700 million to upgrade local drinking water and wastewater facilities.

While we accomplished much in 2021 to help build a brighter future for the Michigan people, there is still much work to do. I believe that the budget process illustrates that we can work together to improve our state, and I am committed to building on that success this year as we meet the challenges facing Michigan families.