Lansing, Mich. (April 26, 2023) — Today, Sen. Darrin Camilleri (D-Trenton), Chairman of the Senate Pre-K-12 Appropriations Subcommittee, offered his historic recommendation for the Pre-K-12 education budget. The proposal now heads to the full Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.
Among other things, Camilleri’s budget recommendation includes a historic 6% increase in per-pupil funding, bringing the foundation allowance to $9,700 per pupil—the highest level in history. The proposal also includes higher weighted funding formulas for at-risk students, English-Language Learners, and students with special needs. In addition, the budget includes a change in at-risk funding never before seen in Michigan, which Camilleri calls the Opportunity Index, that improves equity and flexibility.
“Today, I’m proud to introduce the most progressive education budget our state has ever seen,” said Sen. Camilleri. “As a former teacher, crafting a state education budget with students and teachers at the forefront was my top priority, and I’m excited to begin a conversation around expanding Pre-K, increasing teacher pay and benefits, and making sure no kid is hungry in the classroom.”
The budget also includes funding for universal school meals, and significant investments in teacher recruitment and retention, including a new student loan reimbursement pilot program for teachers.
The proposal includes $160M in line with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s budget recommendation to make breakfasts and lunches free to all public- school students. It also includes an additional $25M to launch the initiative in the current fiscal year so schools can be prepared for the upcoming school year and ensure that all kids will receive free meals beginning in the fall of 2023.
Sen. Camilleri’s student loan forgiveness pilot would be for full-time educators and other school staff working directly with students, and the amount would be variable depending on the poverty level of the district they’re working at to incentivize educators to pursue opportunities with higher-need schools.
“We need to be approaching teacher retention and recruitment on multiple fronts, looking at ways to pay our teachers better as well as ways to reduce their debt,” Camilleri said. “Teaching is often a career decision driven by the heart, but we want to make it a more financially feasible profession as well. Our kids deserve the best teachers, and our teachers deserve the best policies.”