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House adds funds for school resource officers after Oxford shooting

Police Lights

The state House voted Thursday to dramatically boost funding for police officers in schools. It was in response to Tuesday’s shootings at Oxford High School that left four students dead and seven other people wounded.

Republican Representative Gary Howell sponsored the budget amendment.

“We’ve had events in the last week that really dramatized the need for these officers in our schools,” he said.

Howell’s son is a teacher at Oxford High School, and he credits the school resource officer with keeping that tragedy from becoming worse. The officer’s job is to patrol the halls, campus and parking lots. He and another officer who responded to the situation are credited with disarming and arresting the 15-year-old student who’s been charged with the murders.

“So, I am deeply appreciative of that police resource officer to protect John and his students from harm and I want every student in Michigan to potentially have that same level of protection,” he said.

Howell’s amendment would boost the $10 million currently allotted to $50 million. Schools would have to apply for grants to get a share of that money.

In a separate action, the Senate also adopted a budget bill to boost funding for water infrastructure, including dam and sewer improvements and lead line replacements.

It includes an investment in excess of $3 billion. Almost a third of that funding would pay for replacing lead water lines. There’s funding to pay for repairing dams in Midland County that were damaged last year by massive floods. Also, money to pay for badly needed sewer repairs in southeastern Michigan.

Republican Senator Jon Bumstead chairs the Senate appropriations subcommittee in charge of that budget. He says the bill will cover a wide range of infrastructure needs.

“Upgrading local drinking water and wastewater facilities, installing filtered water stations inside schools, addressing the harmful impact of PFAS chemicals, repairing, removing and replacing dams,” he said.

Once the bills are finalized, they would still have to be signed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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