Zorn: 2019 budget invests more in education and roads

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Tuesday supported a finalized fiscal year 2019 state budget that increases investments in key priorities, including educating Michigan students and improving the roads.

“As we have every year I have been in the Legislature, we completed a balanced budget ahead of schedule — allowing local governments and schools to set their budgets using real numbers,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “This budget continues to make smart investments in the top priorities facing Michigan families and businesses while still living within our means.

“Every school will see increased funding in this budget — with most schools receiving the largest per-pupil increase in 17 years — and we are putting an additional $330 million into fixing our roads and bridges.”

The education budget invests nearly $14.8 billion in K-12 education, which includes a foundation allowance increase of between $120 and $240 per pupil and a $1.3 billion contribution into the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS) to control costs, reduce debt and meet the needs of current retired teachers.

The budget also features investments in school safety initiatives, including more funding for the OK2SAY confidential tip-line program, $30 million for mental health support services in schools, and $25 million for school security improvements.

“To ensure that Michigan schools are safe places for kids to learn, we are investing $58 million for our schools and communities to make the necessary safety improvements to protect our students,” Zorn said. “Last year, a group of local education leaders and my office studied ways to improve partnerships between area schools and Jackson College and Monroe Community College to reduce the need for remedial education. This budget builds on that collaboration and includes $25,000 to continue that work.”

The entire state budget plan features $6 million to support rural hospitals, a $9.25 million boost for local public health departments, a $22.5 million increase in local revenue sharing, $40.9 million for skilled trades training and $100 million to fully fund the Marshall Plan for Talent.

“This budget makes wise investments to meet our challenges, educate our children, provide essential services, and to attract tourists and job creators to Michigan,” Zorn said. “Another local project we were able to include is an additional $45,000 to help Lenawee County farmers maintain filter strips that prevent phosphorous from flowing into Lake Erie.”