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Michigan legislature, governor agree on budget bill for COVID-19 related relief

The $465 million pandemic spending plan includes small business relief, unemployment benefit extension funds, and COVID-19 testing and vaccine distribution dollars.
Michigan coronavirus graphic.
Michigan coronavirus graphic.(WLUC/CDC)
Published: Dec. 21, 2020 at 12:38 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WLUC/AP) - Michigan lawmakers and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer agreed to a $465 million pandemic spending plan Monday.

Republican Speaker of the House, Lee Chatfield, who voted in favor of the bill, said it includes:

  • $64 million in small business survival relief
  • $220 million to extend unemployment benefits
  • $45 million in direct payments to workers who have been impacted by the virus
  • $75 million for hospitals and healthcare workers
  • $22 million for increased testing
  • $57 million for vaccine distribution

“This budget bill provides critical support to the workers and small, family businesses who have been left behind by their government and extends a lifeline right when they need it the most,” said Speaker Chatfield. “People are worried about the effects of the latest shutdown and what it means for their families. We are listening and looking for ways to help. Of course, the best way to help people is to follow the science and safely and securely reopen Michigan’s schools and small businesses. Until that happens, we will continue to fight for the people we represent, support working families with our votes and ensure everyone can continue to make ends meet.”

Of the bipartisan budget bill, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said grants up to $20,000 will be made available to small businesses in Michigan. She said the relief bill also includes $3.5 million for grants of up to $40,000 each for live music and entertainment venues.

“I proposed this stimulus plan to the legislature in November because I know how much our families, frontline workers, and small businesses need relief as we head into the winter,” Gov. Whitmer said. “This bipartisan relief bill will provide families and businesses the support they need to stay afloat as we continue working to distribute the safe and effective vaccine and eradicate COVID-19 once and for all.”

Speaker Chatfield said while this is a good step in helping Michigan families, more work is still needed.

“The coronavirus created an impossible situation, and many leaders did the best they can. But the simple truth is the state government’s uneven, inconsistent and often-politicized approach to this virus created hardship for far too many Michigan residents. This is an important vote and an important spending plan to help families, but it is only a temporary solution. Moving forward, state government must provide better answers,” Chatfield said. “We need a real long-term plan everyone can track, like the one House Republicans offered the governor months ago. We need real metrics that give small businesses a path to reopening if they and their communities can do it safely. We need industries without lobbyists to be treated equally with those who have a strong Lansing presence. And we need leadership at the top that understands all of these things are missing and how damaging that is to working people around the state.”

The governor also encouraged Michiganders to continue to stay safe and fight against COVID-19.

“There is still more work to do to beat this virus and grow our economy,” she said. “All Michiganders have a personal responsibility to do their part and mask up, practice safe social distancing, and avoid indoor gatherings where the virus can easily spread from person to person. And I urge everyone who is still doing last-minute holiday shopping to buy local to support your favorite businesses and restaurants. ...There is a light at the end of the tunnel. As we continue working to eliminate this virus, I urge all Michiganders to be smart and stay safe. We will get through this when we continue working together.”

Copyright 2020 WLUC. Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.