Spinal Column: Governor’s FY2016 budget recommendations hit the right notes in key areas

Sen. Mike Kowall

Sen. Mike Kowall

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

In February, Gov. Rick Snyder presented his budget recommendations to the Legislature.

While there is much work to be done on the budget, the governor’s recommendations move the needle in the right direction in several key areas for Fiscal Year 2016, which begins Oct. 1.

The governor addressed three areas in particular that I support and would like to highlight: education, health and jobs.

The governor proposed a total of $12.1 billion in K-12 state appropriations, which is a $208 million funding increase from fiscal year 2015. This includes $108 million to increase the foundation allowance, which equates to a $75 per-pupil increase.

The proposed investment of $25 million for a third-grade reading initiative would continue and advance the state’s focus on early education so that Michigan children can read proficiently by third grade.

An investment of $3.5 billion in federal funds would enable the Healthy Michigan Plan to continue expanded Medicaid coverage. Another $21.8 million in funding to expand the Healthy Kids Dental program into Wayne, Oakland and Kent counties for children ages 0 to 8 would increase the number of children who will receive good dental care by 210,000.

$2.5 million is proposed for university autism programs focused on supporting programs at Eastern Michigan University, Western Michigan University, Oakland University, Central Michigan University and Michigan State University. These funds would be used to increase the number of trained service providers and available autism services.

The proposed $83 million in total investments for skilled trades would help develop a skilled workforce that would lead the nation. This funding would help bridge the talent gap and better match the workforce needs of Michigan industry and business.

Of the governor’s proposed $83 million investment in skilled trades, $10 million would be designated for skilled trades training programs, encouraging more residents to master a skilled trade. This would help to address the skills gap for in-demand jobs to provide the talent that Michigan industry needs.

I am encouraged by the priorities the governor has set in his budget recommendations. These investments in the areas of education, health and jobs will continue to make Michigan a place where people want to come to live, work and raise a family.

I am eager to work with the governor and my fellow legislators over the next few months to refine this budget to ensure we are delivering the maximum benefit for your taxpayer dollars.

This column first appeared in the Spinal Column newsweekly. Senator Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, is the Michigan Senate majority floor leader. He serves the residents of the 15th Senate District, representing western Oakland County.