Zorn: 2018 budget supports key Michigan priorities

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn said that the Legislature on Thursday finalized a fiscal year 2018 budget that increases support for education and public safety while strengthening the state’s finances and promoting job creation.

“Since I joined the Legislature, we have completed a balanced and responsible budget — every year — well ahead of the deadline, which gives local governments and schools districts the ability to set their budgets using real numbers rather than ghost numbers,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “We worked hard to finalize a budget that continues to make smart investments in the top priorities facing Michigan families and businesses while still living within our means. Under this budget, every school in Michigan will see increased funding, and we will be making a substantial investment into fixing our roads.

“In addition to increasing support for K-12 education by more than $415 million, we are once again paying down more than $1 billion in school retirement costs to help put additional resources into the classroom.”

House Bill 4313 is the education budget for K-12 education, state universities and community colleges, totaling $16.6 billion. It invests nearly $14.6 billion in total K-12 education, including an increase of $60 to $120 per student for local schools and an additional $25 for high schoolers.

The bill also features a foundation allowance increase for all schools, a $120 million increase in at-risk funding, funding increases for public universities and community colleges, $9.6 million for career and technical education (CTE) equipment, and a deposit of more than $1.3 billion into the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS).

Zorn was successful in securing funding for CTE equipment for the Monroe County Intermediate School District, Ida Public Schools and the Southern Michigan Center for Science and Industry in Hudson.

“The skills gap in skilled trades continues to grow and this equipment will help schools to better prepare students for these high paying, high skilled positions,” said Monroe County ISD Superintendent Stephen McNew. “We greatly appreciate this opportunity to teach students with these emerging technologies.”

The Monroe County ISD VR-welding simulators will be used to supplement CTE classes offered at Airport Community Schools, Bedford Public Schools and Monroe Public Schools. There are approximately 300 students enrolled in welding classes at these schools who will benefit from the use of the simulator.

“We appreciate the work Dale did to secure these funds,” said Hudson Area Schools Superintendent Michael Osborn. “He understands the importance of education to economic development and workforce development. We take seriously our role in making a difference in our region and this will go a long way with both kids and adults to impact careers in engineering and manufacturing.”

Ida Public Schools Superintendent Rick Carsten said, “Our staff is absolutely ecstatic about receiving additional CTE funding. The new equipment and technology will make a significant impact on our students and enable them to gain state-of-the-art training for industry.”

House Bill 4323 contains budgets for state departments and the judicial and legislative branches. It would increase local revenue sharing to counties, townships, cities and villages by 1 to 2.2 percent; increase staffing for Michigan’s veterans homes; graduate 150 new state police troopers; and add $11 million to increase skilled trades training funding to $41.9 million.

“Michigan drivers will be glad to hear that we are boosting transportation funding by more than $214 million, including $130 million more to help fix local roads. That includes an additional $2 million for Monroe County and $1 million for Lenawee County, based on population,” Zorn said. “This budget supports our key priorities: supporting vital services, investing in our children and continuing to make Michigan more attractive to tourists and job creators.”

The bills now head to the governor to be signed. The FY 2018 budget takes effect on Oct. 1.