Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s budget proposal would restore funding for a training program for skilled trades that the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce has championed for years.
The budget proposal presented to lawmakers for the 2020-21 fiscal year that starts Oct. 1 allocated $27.9 million for Going Pro. Gov. Whitmer line-item vetoed $37.3 million in funding for the program last October in a budget fight with Republicans in the state Legislature.
Bills have since been proposed in Lansing to restore funding for the present fiscal year for Going Pro, which provides grants for employers seeking training for new and current employees in high-demand, skilled trades.
The Grand Rapids Chamber hopes that lawmakers will approve both the funding restoration for 2020 fiscal year and the amount proposed in the next fiscal year, said Alexa Kramer, director of government affairs.
During a town hall hosted Wednesday by the Grand Rapids Chamber, Gov. Whitmer indicated she thought the program would get reinstated for 2020, Kramer said.
“We’re feeling pretty good that it is in 2021 and optimistic about 2020 supplemental (funding),” Kramer said. “We’re hopeful at least that this might give the nod to the Legislature for fiscal year 2020 that we can go ahead and fund the program through some sort of supplemental (funding) here soon so we can get the training scheduled for this year going.”
The governor’s budget proposal states that Going Pro in the 2019 fiscal year supported training for 25,000 employees and more than 1,500 new apprenticeships.
The funds are allocated through Michigan Works! associations across the state. West Michigan Works! distributed nearly $10 million to employers in Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent, Montcalm, Muskegon and Ottawa counties in 2019, as MiBiz previously reported. In West Michigan, 360 companies applied for 2020 Going PRO funding, according to West Michigan Works!.