Runestad votes to approve 2022 budget

LANSING, Mich.Sen. Jim Runestad on Tuesday voted to support a fiscal year 2022 general budget plan focused on increasing investments to support Michigan families and build up a healthy economy that benefits everyone.

“With the state’s next fiscal year a little more than a week away, I voted for a budget today that will keep our state open and operating for the people of Michigan – providing new funding for our local communities, solid investment in infrastructure and natural resource protections, and rejuvenating support for our workforce,” said Runestad, R-White Lake. “I am also pleased that this important legislation includes an agreement to protect individual medical privacy and personal liberties.”

The Senate approved Senate Bill 82, a general budget that includes $1.4 billion to lower rates and recruit more childcare workers, $414.5 million to permanently increase wages for direct care workers, $40 million for the Going Pro program to support employee training, and $55 million for the Michigan Reconnect program to provide tuition-free community college and training

“This spending will make a difference for Michigan residents struggling to find adequate childcare or in need of training to return to the workforce following the pandemic shutdowns that put so many out of work through no fault of their own,” Runestad said.

The bill sets aside $150 million for Unemployment Insurance Agency trust fund solvency and $4 million for a third-party fraud detection program to prevent funds that are designated for Michigan residents from being stolen through organized criminal cyber efforts. It calls for UIA and secretary of state branch offices to open for in-person walk-in services without an advance appointment.

Additionally, SB 82 includes language that ensures no government entity, department or agency receiving funding will require proof of vaccination to access state services or release an individual’s vaccination status.

“As public servants, it is our duty to protect and defend the rights of all Michigan residents to work and live freely,” Runestad said. “The Legislature has used this bill to reaffirm the rights of Michiganders to make their own personal health decisions regarding vaccines.”

The bill also includes $14.5 million for local governments to remove PFAS from the water, $190 million to repair or replace local bridges, and $19 million to repair or replace local dams. The plan would also invest $3 million in the state’s 75 conservation districts, including $40,000 for the Oakland County Conservation District.

On Wednesday, the Senate is expected to approve House Bill 4400, which includes increases for community colleges and public universities and $86 million to reduce university MPSERS obligations — which would build on the $140 million in the already signed K-12 budget to reduce school unfunded liabilities.

SB 82 and HB 4400 complete the 2022 state budget that began with the July signing of the K-12 budget, which provided a record level of state school funding for the current school year and boosted every school district’s foundation allowance up to at least $8,700 per student.

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