Gov. Whitmer signs $24.3 billion state education budget including free school meals, expanded free pre-k

The budget includes $611 million to increase per-pupil funding by 5%, which is an additional $458 per student.
Published: Jul. 20, 2023 at 5:15 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WLUC) - Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D-Michigan) announces large investments for tutoring, free school meals, and support for safety and mental health programs. This is all part of the 2024 Michigan State Education Budget the governor signed Thursday.

“When we make investments in the education of our kids, we make opportunities for all,” Whitmer said.

Governor Whitmer said the historic education budget includes $24.3 billion invested in Michigan kids. The budget includes $611 million to increase per-pupil funding by 5%, which is an additional $458 per student.

“This means more in-class resources for your children and grandchildren,” Whitmer said. “We have increased per-pupil funding by 22% since I took office.”

Whitmer said for rural school districts, nearly a billion dollars has been set aside for academically at-risk and economically disadvantaged students. She adds by combining that with additional funding for special education, the funding gap between school districts shrinks.

Plus, the budget includes $328 million for school safety and mental health programs.

“We also have prioritized the voice of educational professionals at a higher level than they ever have been prioritized in Michigan’s history,” said Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist.

Whitmer said the budget gets the state closer to providing free Pre-K for all Michigan students. An additional 5,600 students will now go to Pre-K for free.

Plus, 1.4 million Michigan public school students will receive free breakfast and lunch after an additional $160 million investment.

“I am proud that we are just the 7th state in the nation to get this done,” Whitmer said.

Whitmer also said that the budget now allows every 4th-grade student to take a free field trip to one of Michigan’s state parks. The governor said she hopes this drives more students outdoors.

The budget also includes the following:

  • $611 million to increase per-pupil funding by 5%, an additional $458 per student, for a total of $9,608 per-pupil. Per-pupil funding is up 22% since the Governor took office.
  • $450 million deposit into a new rainy day fund for schools, setting aside resources for future needs and shoring up the long-term financial stability of the state’s public education system.
  • $370 million to support teachers, including continued support for the MI Future Educator Fellowship (which provides a tuition free path for college students to become certified teachers) and funds to retain and develop existing teachers through mentoring programs.
  • $328 million for mental health and school safety.
  • $254.6 million to expand free pre-K for up to 5,600 kids, working towards Pre-K for All by the end of the Governor’s second term, saving families $10,000 a year and putting kids on the path to a brighter future.
  • $204.5 million increase, for a total of $952 million, in funding for academically at-risk, economically disadvantaged students.
  • $160 million to provide all 1.4 million public school students with free breakfast and lunch.
  • $150 million for individualized tutoring or academic support through the MI Kids Back on Track program.
  • $140.3 million to continue expanded support for special education students, providing a full foundation allowance plus required cost reimbursements for each student.
  • $125 million to fund matching grants for school districts to modernize their bus fleet by switching over to electric vehicles.
  • $94.4 million for literacy-related programs and activities in Detroit’s public schools.
  • $25.5 million to help students reach their full academic potential, including expansion of existing payments for literacy grants and literacy coaches.
  • $25 million supporting new math intervention programs.
  • $25 million for additional support for vocational education and career and technical education equipment upgrades.
  • $13.3 million to provide a 50% increase in funding for English language learners.

The budget also includes investments in higher education and workforce development:

  • A 5% ongoing increase for university and community college operations.
  • $112 million in Infrastructure, Technology, Equipment Maintenance, and Safety (ITEMS) funding to assist community colleges and universities improve existing facilities, infrastructure, technology, and campus security.
  • $50 million additional investment for the ongoing costs of the Michigan Achievement Scholarship, lowering costs by thousands for students, bringing the FY24 investment to $300 million.
  • $10 million to community colleges and public universities for critical incident mapping to help with campus safety.
  • Up to $10 million annually to market the Michigan Achievement Scholarship, to promote lower costs for college degrees and credentials.
  • $10 million to support adult postsecondary completions.