For years, the Legislature approved responsible budgets that paid down debt and put money
away for a rainy day. Fast forward to 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic had its hold on the
state. The uncertainty that followed took a toll on the state’s finances, but thanks to responsible
budgeting, along with emergency federal funding, we were left in a better place than originally
Budget discussions in the Legislature have ramped up and efforts between lawmakers are in full
swing. The Senate recently finished approving subcommittee appropriations budgets, which
brings the fiscal year 2022 budget one step closer to completion as my colleagues and I work out
the final details.
We cut a lot of spending from the budget as a way to tighten our belts and I think we are in a
good place financially as we continue to manage the uncertainties of the pandemic and the state’s
future. While there were some carefully considered cuts, this budget funds many of Michigan’s
most important priorities.
The plan would invest $15.8 billion in K-12 education, a total increase of $249 million. The bill
increases per-pupil payments for students and includes additional funding to help schools deal
with side effects of this pandemic, including the growing mental health issues among young
The Senate increased funding beyond the governor’s recommendations to support a permanent
wage increase of $2.35 per hour for direct care workers who stood in the face of this virus.
Despite strain on the medical industry and staff being stretched thin, these people showed up to
work and continued providing care to those in need. The Senate proposal also funded a $2 per
hour increase for front-line workers employed by child-caring institutions.
Like years past, especially prior to the pandemic, transportation funding also remained a priority
for the Senate. We’re picking up where we left off and continuing our work to overhaul
Michigan’s crumbling roads. The Senate dedicated more resources for state road and bridge
construction and $2.2 billion for local transportation infrastructure projects.
Other measures included in the budget are money for local health departments to maintain their
ongoing efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic; more revenue sharing funding for local
governments; funding to restore Gov. Whitmer’s cuts to the Animal Agriculture Initiative, which
assists farmers and ensures food safety; money to train 120 new Michigan State Police Troopers,
including resources for de-escalation techniques; funding for grants to help struggling veterans
with expenses; and $77 million to assist with child care costs for struggling Michigan families.
I also joined lawmakers in calling for the secretary of state and unemployment offices to be
opened as well. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson recently announced that she was considering
making her department’s burdensome policy permanent, and the state’s unemployment offices
remain closed — despite the never-ending list of complaints from recipients.
Both departments have had their offices closed for over a year and it’s causing nothing but
problems for the people both are supposed to be serving. People are waiting months to transfer a
title and countless eligible recipients were denied benefits as the UIA shelled out billions in
fraudulent payments. Opening these offices, at least in part, could have prevented the fraud
plaguing the UIA and eliminate the logjam in service we are seeing with both departments.
We’re looking at ways to influence their decisions to open up and begin serving residents again.
Overall, our central focus is getting our state back to normal. We’re working to continue getting
relief to those in need, funding important measures, and furthering our resurgence from COVID-
19 — and doing so without raising taxes.
Sen. Rick Outman, R-Six Lakes, represents the 33rd state Senate District, which includes Clare,
Gratiot, Isabella, Mecosta, and Montcalm counties.