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LEO subcommittee reports 2022 budget, Horn highlights priorities

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Legislature is continuing its work on the state budget and Senate appropriations subcommittees have begun reporting their budgets.

State Sen. Ken Horn, who chairs the Labor and Economic Opportunity/MEDC appropriations subcommittee, highlighted the subcommittee’s priorities.

“For years, we have been working to encourage economic activity in our state and expand opportunities for those working to improve their lives and advance their careers,” said Horn, R-Frankenmuth. “Michigan has faced many challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and now, more than ever, it is critically important to maintain funding for programs that spur economic activity.”

Horn pointed to the Going Pro Talent Program as a crucial priority during this budget cycle. The committee approved $40 million for the program, which helps employers retain talent and train more skilled workers to fill vacant job openings in Michigan.

The purpose of the program is to ultimately close the “talent gap” and strengthen Michigan’s workforce. The program does this by providing competitive awards, which are similar to grants, to qualified, in-state employers for workforce training like talent enhancement and skill development, increasing worker productivity, management training and worker retention.

“I have long fought for getting more workers trained in skilled trades,” Horn said. “There are countless employers across the state who have job openings they can’t fill. I again prioritized additional dollars for Going Pro because Michigan needs a resurgence of trained workers to jumpstart our economy and get people back to work.”

The committee also focused its efforts on making sure the proven Pure Michigan campaign received funding to continue promoting the state’s tourism and hospitality industries — which would help facilitate a much-needed boost for the struggling industry.

“The committee recommended $40 million to bring back the state’s travel industry,” Horn said. “Our hospitality and tourism industries have been decimated like no other and need our help to recover, reopen and restore consumer confidence.”

Other highlights included in the recommendations include $5 million in funding for at-risk youth grants to help reduce dropout rates and train troubled youth with skills to enter a successful career; $30 million for Michigan Reconnect for individuals to complete an associate degree or skills certificate and reenter the workforce; $662,000 to train individuals on probation and parole focusing on job readiness, job coaching and job placement to reduce recidivism; and $2.5 million for the Childcare Facilitators Project, which would continue an ongoing effort to increase access to high quality and affordable child care.

“Much of the focus with these measures is removing or lessening barriers to employment here in Michigan,” Horn said. “We’re in a time where economic activity is of the utmost importance for the state to emerge from COVID-19 and move forward economically. We have a vein of untapped talent that we need to work on getting the skills they need to have a great career and life here in Michigan.”