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Bizon votes for bipartisan plan to solve state’s budget shortfall

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. John Bizon, M.D. voted for a plan passed by the Legislature Wednesday to resolve a $2.2 billion budget deficit for fiscal year 2020.

The state has faced unprecedented budgetary pressures this year due to the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent loss of jobs and economic downturn. Wednesday’s agreement balances the budget while protecting Michigan families, schools and communities.

“I was concerned that school funding might have seen crippling cuts this year; I was relieved we were able to allocate $555 million for K-12 funding,” said Bizon, R-Battle Creek.

Under the plan, teachers will receive $500 in one-time hazard pay, and schools will receive federal dollars to cover costs incurred at the end of the last school year and to prepare to reopen in the fall. Michigan schools will receive a net increase of $175 per pupil to address the challenges posed by COVID-19.

“The pandemic has been a particularly hard time for teachers and students,” Bizon said. “I want to make sure students are still learning and the classroom is as safe as possible.”

Building on the framework previously announced by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield, the agreement will balance the state’s $2.2 billion budget shortfall through spending cuts, hiring freezes and using a portion of the state’s “rainy day fund.”

“Michiganders from every corner of the state and of every political persuasion have all faced extremely difficult and unique challenges this year,” Bizon said. “It was good for both sides of the aisle, for both the House and the Senate, and for the governor all to come together to achieve this fiscally responsible budget solution.”

As part of the agreement, most state agencies will see reductions, including the executive and legislative budgets. The plan also includes $936 million in savings through reductions in state spending and other measures and uses $350 million in the state’s reserve funds to support funding for critical programs.

With Wednesday’s action, the Legislature has sent federal Coronavirus Relief Funds to schools, communities, job creators, workers and families affected by the pandemic, including:
• $555 million to support public schools;
• $350 million to local governments; and
• $200 million to public universities and community colleges.

Senate Bill 373 and House Bill 5265 now head to the governor to be signed into law.

The state’s budget leaders, along with Bizon, are already working on the fiscal year 2021 budget, which begins Oct. 1.