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Dear Friends,

To better serve the great people of West Michigan, I’m offering this e-newsletter on what’s happening in the new 30th Senate District and across our state.

I encourage you to contact me with any state issues. You can call toll-free at 855-347-8030 or email [email protected]. Also, please check out my Facebook page. Let me know if I can assist you in any way or if you have an idea to help move our state forward.

Working for you,

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Mark Huizenga
State Senator

Michigan budget update, funding secured for West Michigan

The Michigan Legislature recently passed the state’s fiscal year 2024 spending plan — House Bill 4437, the general government budget, and Senate Bill 173, the school aid budget.

For the first time in 40 years, Democrats control all three branches of state government and therefore, had a majority say over much of the state budget.

Despite being in the minority position, Republicans were able to negotiate some very significant priorities that will pay down debt, cut irresponsible spending, keep our communities safe and invest in our beautiful state parks.

Republican priorities in this budget include:

• $800 million reserved for debt payments.
• $200 million toward the state’s higher education school employee’s retirement system debt.
• Funding for schools to hire school resource officers to keep our kids safe.
• A $458 per-pupil increase to the K-12 school foundation allowance.
• No cuts to Michigan’s cyber schools, which are utilized by families across our state.
• More than $215 million to repair the local roads and bridges.
• Over $500 million for drinking water and wastewater improvement projects.
• Investments made into our beautiful state parks.

I am focused on solving problems facing West Michigan, and I supported this improved plan because it will help meet that goal. While this finalized budget is an improvement over the plan passed in May, it still misses the mark in many ways.

It is important that we’re further investing in our economy and our communities, but — with a multibillion-dollar surplus — I am disappointed that this plan doesn’t include real tax relief for families struggling with inflation, better help for those most in need, or adequate resources to fix our roads and bridges.

I believe our state and its people need a better budget that more effectively uses their tax dollars to meet their needs and enhance their communities.

In the final version of the budget, I was able to secure:

• $12 million in additional funding to double support for Michigan’s food banks.
• $25.8 million to support crime victims.
• $5 million for the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum.
• $13.9 million for ambulance services reimbursements.
• $1 million for the West Michigan Center for Art and Technology.
• $1 million to improve health care through biomedical research.
• $14 million for the John Ball Zoo.
• $1.8 million for the Grand Rapids Ballet.
• $2 million for Junior Achievement in Grand Rapids and Detroit.
• $1.5 million for the Blandford Nature Center.
• $1 million for the Grand Rapids Public Museum.
• $5 million for West Michigan Hispanic Chamber capital improvements.
• $5 million for Special Olympics Grand Rapids.
• $3.5 million for Cascade Charter Township Urban/Suburban Recreational Pathway.
• $35 million for Grand Rapids fire stations.
• $1 million for Exalta Health.
• $1 million for a Calvin University workforce development partnership.
• $1.5 million in tobacco prevention and cessation funding.

This funding will help support our children, crime victims and workers, feed the hungry, provide critical emergency care, and enhance the quality of life in West Michigan.

I will continue to work on additional funding that I first offered as amendments in May but were not included in the final budget plan, such as:

• Tripling the 8% reimbursement rate for foster and adoptive families and juvenile guardians.
• Increasing funding for Children’s Advocacy Centers by $12 million.
• Investing $3 million to help prevent wrong-way accidents on highway ramps.

100,000 unserved Michigan homes, businesses to connect to high-speed internet

The Michigan High-Speed Internet Office has announced its initial recommendations for the Realizing Opportunity with Broadband Infrastructure Networks grant program. The ROBIN grants, made possible through an appropriation by Senate Republicans in 2022, will provide $238 million in federal funding through the Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund to support the deployment of high-speed internet to approximately 100,000 unserved locations throughout the state.

Proposals for funding were submitted earlier this year through a competitive application process and were reviewed and scored by the MIHI’s ROBIN steering committee.

A 45-day comment and objection window is open from June 16 through July 31, 2023. To view a list of initial grant awardees, grant location maps, review the scoring criteria or leave a comment, visit the MIHI website.

Scam alert!

The Michigan attorney general is alerting residents to a scam involving both businesses and workers. Fraudulent letters, which identify the sender as the state of Michigan, are being sent to residents or employers informing them that they have an overdue state debt that must be addressed immediately.

These letters are not from the state of Michigan, the UIA or the Michigan Department of Treasury. They are a scam designed to scare residents into sending payments or providing personal information that can be used to commit identity theft.

If you believe you have received one of these letters, or if you have been a victim of any other scam, please file a complaint with the attorney general's Consumer Protection team by phone at 517-335-7599, toll-free at 877-765-8388 or by using the online complaint form.

Know before you go

Michigan residents are used to checking the weather before they head out for the day. During wildfire season, check for fire risks locally or in an area you plan to visit. Use the DNR’s Fire Alert map for fire risks, details on burn permits and weather conditions.

In the end of June, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services urged residents to check air quality and take other precautions because of wildfire smoke from Canada. Residents can check the use's online tool to check air quality by location before heading out.

Michigan cherries

Michigan cherries are grown from Benton Harbor to Elk Rapids, making Michigan the number one cherry producer in the U.S. In fact, Michigan supplies more than 70% of all U.S. tart cherries!

The first cherry trees were planted by a missionary on Old Mission Peninsula in 1852. The cherry trees flourished, and soon other farmers began planting cherry orchards in the area. The first commercial tart cherry orchards in Michigan were planted in 1893 and by the early 1900s, the tart cherry industry was firmly established. Today, Michigan produces nearly 200 million pounds of cherries each year.

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New bills would erode accountability measures in schools

New bills passed by Democrats in the House and Senate would make it harder for parents to know if their child has been placed with an underperforming teacher.

House Bills 4044, 4233, 4354, 4356, and 4357 would erode accountability in schools by removing a requirement that school administrators base personnel decisions on effective performance, demonstrated student growth, and other qualifications, and instead allow union bosses to drive teacher placement decisions.

All parents want to see their child succeed, and I support the work teachers do. However, this legislative package does not address the true needs of students.

Serving the people of West Michigan is very important to me and I encourage you to contact me with any state issues. You may contact me by calling toll-free 1-855-347-8030 or emailing [email protected].

I look forward to serving you, and I encourage you to contact me if I can assist you in any way or if you have an idea to help move our state forward.

Senator Mark Huizenga
201 Townsend St., Suite #7200
P.O. Box 30036
Lansing, MI 48909-7536

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