State Budget Director David Massaron presented Governor Whitmer’s FY 2022 Executive Budget Recommendation on February 11, 2021. The presentation, like so many annual traditions, looked very different from years past, but did take place in person in a very socially distanced hearing room before a joint meeting of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.
The stated main areas of focus for the budget are “strategic investments in Education and Children, Infrastructure, Public Health, Clean Environment, Opportunity for Families and Businesses and Fiscal Responsibility.” In total, the FY 2022 Budget appropriates $67.1 billion, and includes a significant increase of one-time federal dollars. Director Massaron noted that the budget for FY 23 looks tight, but we’ll leave that for another update.
The proposed increase for the foundation allowance is $203 million. Using the 2X formula, this equates to a $82 to $164 per pupil increase for the highest and the lowest funded districts respectively. The proposed minimum foundation allowance would be $8,275 and the proposed maximum would be $8,611. If enacted, this reduces the gap between the minimum and maximum foundation allowances to $336 per pupil.
In addition to the foundation allowance proposal, the governor’s recommendation includes $61.4 million for state reimbursement payments for the costs associated with educating special education students in addition to the state’s required reimbursement rate of 28%. Funding for At-Risk totals $534.5 million (a $12.5 million increase) and $13.3 million for ELL (a 2% increase). Rural and isolated district funding is also slated to see a 2% funding increase.
One major expenditure that has been a major priority for MASA is a $200 million line item to help declining enrollment districts ease into a new pupil count and correlated funding level. This is a one-time expenditure, but MASA would strongly support a long-term declining enrollment proposal. As we understand the governor’s recommendation, pupil blends would return to their pre-pandemic calculation (90% based on 2021-22 fall count and 10% based on 2020-21 winter count) and declining enrollment funding would be provided for up to 70% of the payment that would have been made without any decline. Obviously, should need outweigh $200 million, this categorical would be prorated.
Additional funding proposals for FY 2022 include:
$250 million in one-time funding to support student recovery and implement research-based best practices to support student academic recovery, physical and mental health, and post-secondary readiness and transition. It is assumed these dollars will be used to implement recommendations from the Student Recovery Advisory Council.
$120 million for summer learning engagement for summer 2021 and 2022, equating to $60 million per year. We’ve been told these will be general fund dollars and would flow through ISDs for various programs including outside agencies that might help with certain summer programing.
$126 million Governor’s Education Emergency Relief Fund (GEERS) to mitigate the costs of COVID-19 on students. This is reflected in a $38.9 million for public schools. The Executive Budget Recommendation proposes allocating the public school dollars as followed:
- $10 million to support ISDs in coordinating pandemic response and student recovery efforts. The recommendation also includes $2 million to help develop and implement a strategy for intermediate school districts to identify and reengage students who became disconnected from learning during the pandemic.
- $8.4 million for physical, emotional, and mental health programs for educators and students.
- $6 million to support out-of-school-time providers who serve children in low-income communities and help these children participate in virtual instruction and get back on track academically, mentally, socially, and physically.
- $3 million to accelerate innovation and learning in childcare, improving the access to high-quality care. The recommendation also adds $2 million for continued development and broadcast of high-quality early childhood programming through public television.
- $3 million for additional supports for Early On, a program designed to identify and respond to developmental delays in young children, with special attention given to reaching more families in innovative ways during the pandemic.
- $3 million for competitive grants to community colleges, state universities, and independent colleges to increase college persistence and completion rates, particularly among working-aged adults impacted by the pandemic.
- $1.5 million for the Michigan Center for Education Research and Implementation to lead the replication and scaling of best practices in instruction, administration, and student support, beginning first with the recommendations of the state’s COVID-19 Student Recovery Advisory Council.
$2.9 million to address educator shortages and provide more supports for current teachers as well as incentives to recruit former and future educators into the profession. These dollars are likely to be allocated to the Michigan Department of Education to administer this program, although that was not specified during the budget presentation.
$32 million increase for Great Start Readiness Program, bringing the state full day rate from $7,255 to the minimum foundation allowance of $8,725. This represents the first increase in this rate since 2014.
$55 million school aid dollars for the Filter First programs to purchase filters for drinking water sources to combat lead and contaminants.
- $5.2 million for hearing and vision screenings
- $36.9 million to support student mental and behavioral health
- $31.5 million for state-funded literacy coaches
- $70.5 million for ISD operations funding (Section 81). This equates to an increase of 2%
One major disappointment in this budget is the continued use of School Aid Fund dollars to prop up other state spending priorities. As of last year, $978 million in School Aid Fund dollars were used to support programs like community colleges and universities. Governor Whitmer’s proposal raises that number to over $1 billion for the first time ever and includes operational increases for community colleges, universities, and a new $55 million allocation for the Filter First program (one-time funding to install bottle filling stations in schools, though without any ongoing funding for upkeep).
The budget now is in the hands of lawmakers and we look forward to working with lawmakers to pass a budget before school district deadlines for budget adoption.