I hope you all enjoyed the Fourth of July weekend with your family and friends. Right before the holiday weekend, the Michigan House and Senate each worked late into the night to pass the Fiscal Year 2023 state budget. Highlights about that are included below, along with other important updates.
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Please do not hesitate to call my office at (517) 373-0990 or reply to this email if you have any questions or need assistance.
Working for you,
GOVERNOR, LEGISLATIVE LEADERS REACH BUDGET DEAL
On Thursday, June 30, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and legislative leaders of the Michigan House and Senate reached an agreement on the state’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget that delivers on the kitchen-table issues that matter. Both bills passed with majority support in each chamber. Senate Bill 845 was adopted in the Senate by a vote of 35-2 and 99-7 in the House. House Bill 5783 passed the Senate unanimously and the vote was 97-9 in the House.
The nearly $77 billion budget — with $19.6 billion from the School Aid Fund and $15.3 billion from the General Fund — will grow Michigan’s economy and workforce, make record investments in every student and classroom, protect public health and public safety, expand mental health resources, and empower working families and communities.
In addition to prioritizing funding for our students, schools, public health, natural resources, and communities, the FY23 budget pays down $2.6 billion in debt while still setting money aside for a rainy day. It makes a $180 million deposit into the Budget Stabilization Fund and leaves about $7 billion ($3.8 billion in the General Fund and $3.3 billion in the School Aid Fund) for the administration and legislative leaders to continue conversations around tax cuts. The leftover money is a mix of one-time surplus dollars and ongoing funding.
Some other funding highlights of the FY23 budget are a 5% increase in ongoing revenue sharing with a 1% one-time increase, and a record $450 per-pupil increase in the K-12 foundation allowance, bringing the total to $9,150 per student.
Other school investments include:
Both community colleges and universities would see a 5% increase in operations funding, $750 million toward local government debt relief, and $180 million deposited into the Budget Stabilization Fund.
Additional investments include $1.92 billion toward special education resources, $40 million for Pure Michigan, and $56 million to train nurses and build up Michigan’s health care system.
MDHHS ANNOUNCES FREE COVID-19 TESTS AVAILABLE FOR AT-RISK COMMUNITIES
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has announced an expanded partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation through Project Act to provide 300,000 COVID-19 tests to 60,000 households free of charge to at-risk communities. Michigan was previously enrolled in a pilot program that provided 250,000 tests to 50,000 households.
Residents can request tests once per month in July and August. Households will receive one kit each month containing five tests.
Eligible individuals in vulnerable communities can order their free COVID-19 tests through AccessCovidTests.org. Each household will receive one kit with five tests, typically within a week of ordering. Individuals seeking to order tests will input their ZIP code to see if they live in a qualifying area. Individuals without internet access can contact 211 for assistance ordering tests.
MDHHS also continues to partner with libraries across the state to provide free at-home COVID-19 tests to Michiganders. Click here for a list of participating libraries.
AG NESSEL ISSUES NEW CONSUMER ALERT TIED TO PROTECTING PRIVATE HEALTH, LOCATION DATA
In the wake of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding abortion, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel issued a new consumer alert focused on consumer protection measures residents can enact right now to protect their personal information companies obtain when you sign up for certain services, like phone applications that track fertility and menstrual cycles.
The Protecting Private Health and Location Data Consumer Alert is now available on the Department’s alerts page.
Here are some tips from the Federal Trade Commission on how to protect personal data:
Compare options on privacy. When considering a health app, ask some key questions:
Take control of personal information.
Know the risks.
Report concerns. Do you think a health app shared personal information without permission?
For more information, read this additional guidance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
AVAILABLE ASSISTANCE FOR CONSUMERS STRUGGLING WITH ENERGY COSTS
Help is available for Michiganders grappling with higher energy costs amid fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s war on Ukraine.
First, contact your electric or natural gas utilities for information about financial assistance, or contact Michigan 211 by calling 211 or going to mi211.org. Michigan 211 is a free, confidential service that connects Michiganders with a broad range of assistance programs and services and other resources, including help with food, housing, transportation and home energy bills.
More energy assistance information is available through the MPSC’s energy assistance consumer tip sheet. Utility customers also can help reduce their costs by using energy efficiently. Check out the MPSC’s consumer tip on beating the heat for suggestions on reducing energy use. The U.S. Department of Energy has additional spring and summer tips to save energy.
ARABIC LANGUAGE BALLOTS NOW AVAILABLE IN DEARBORN, HAMTRAMCK
Arabic language ballots are available for the first time in state history at clerk offices in the cities of Dearborn and Hamtramck.
The city councils of Dearborn and Hamtramck passed resolutions earlier this year to make Arabic-language ballots available for their communities. Hamtramck already offered ballots in Bangla. Their clerks and Clerk Garrett, with support provided by Secretary Benson’s administration, worked to ensure they were available in the local clerks’ offices by the June 23 constitutional deadline. The translated ballots are available for absentee voting and will also be available at polling locations on Election Day.
Voters who wish to request an Arabic-language absentee ballot can do so by visiting their local clerk office or mailing in the Arabic-language absentee ballot application. Voters planning to request their absentee ballot by mail are encouraged to do so as soon as possible and no later than July 18, to prevent possible postal delays.
Voters can find their clerk’s office location, polling place location, and more information at Michigan.gov/Vote.
JULY RECOGNIZED AS LAKES APPRECIATION MONTH
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has proclaimed July as Lakes Appreciation Month, highlighting the rich ecosystems, fresh drinking water, recreational appeal, and economic vitality that Michigan’s 11,000 inland lakes and four bordering Great Lakes provide.
Michigan continues to award infrastructure grants to municipalities through the governor’s $500 million bipartisan MI Clean Water Plan, ensuring Michiganders of access to clean and affordable drinking water. The governor’s MI Healthy Climate Plan, meanwhile, creates a roadmap to a prosperous carbon-neutral economy by 2050 that will also protect the state’s natural resources, including lakes.
Appreciating Michigan’s lakes means respecting them, too — especially the immense power of the Great Lakes. When making summer plans for time at Great Lakes beaches, always use caution, pay attention to beach flag warnings (where available), and know that the lakes are prone to dangerous rip currents, crashing waves, and quickly changing weather patterns.
Of Michigan’s 100-plus state parks, 42 offer access to the Great Lakes shoreline, making them popular destinations for gatherings with family and friends. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) offers safety tips and information everyone should know before hitting the water.