By Bria Brown

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday signed a $62.7 billion state budget hours before the new fiscal year, funding a new tuition-assistance program for adults while avoiding major government cuts despite the economic downturn during the coronavirus pandemic.

The plan, which had bipartisan legislative support, also includes a slight boost in aid for schools and a full or partial restoration of tourism and job-training funds that were vetoed amid an impasse a year ago and again when COVID-19 struck. The process was delayed this year due to uncertainty over the pandemic’s effect on tax revenues but eased by a $3 billion federal rescue that helped balance the current and new budgets.

“It is a budget that will move Michigan forward,” the Democratic governor told reporters on a call after signing the bills in private at her Lansing residence, where she was joined by budget director Chris Kolb and the top members of the Senate Appropriations Committee: Republican Chair Jim Stamas of Midland and Democratic Vice-Chair Curtis Hertel Jr. of East Lansing. “It was robustly supported in a bipartisan way, which in this current political climate is quite a feat.”

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