By Sen. Wayne Schmidt
37th Senate District
The Legislature has finalized a fiscal year 2018 budget that will maintain the state’s commitment to education, public safety and job creation.
For the seventh consecutive year, we completed a fiscally responsible budget months ahead of schedule. This budget is good for the state and good for the 37th Senate District.
HB 4323 contains budgets for state departments and the judicial and legislative branches. The measure supports several initiatives important both to northern lower Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.
$3.4 million is set aside for classroom renovations and expanded learning spaces for North Central Michigan College. The bill also includes $100,000 for the Beaver Island Rural Health Center and $100,000 for the Mackinac Island Medical Center.
This funding is great news for the residents of Petoskey and these two islands. North Central students will benefit from the upgrades to the college, and the money for the island clinics will maintain essential health services.
In the Upper Peninsula, $1 million is designated for work on the Sault Ste. Marie Carbide Docks, $300,000 for power grid improvements at Lake Superior State University, and $800,000 to pay for legacy costs associated with counties consolidating into the UPWARD Talent Council.
The money appropriated for the UPWARD Talent Council in particular is a great win for the Upper Peninsula. This council is vitally important to the region, and this funding is needed for its continued operation.
HB 4313 is the education budget for K-12 education, state universities and community colleges, totaling $16.6 billion.
The K-12 budget, which is nearly $14.6 billion, includes the key provision of “2x funding,” in which the lowest-funded school districts in northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula will receive up to twice as much of an increase as the higher-funded districts. Base funding for those districts will include a $120 increase per student plus an additional $25 for each high school student.
The bill also features $300,000 in funding for the Michigan Indian Tuition Waiver. The Indian Tuition Waiver is important for the entire state and critical for helping to ensure that the thousands of Native Americans living in the district are able to pursue higher education, per the 1836 Treaty of Washington.
The FY 2018 budget bills are now on the governor’s desk. The budget will take effect on Oct. 1.
Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, represents the 37th state Senate District, which includes Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Chippewa, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Luce and Mackinac counties.