State House Passes $465M Supplemental Bill to Address COVID-19 Needs

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The Michigan House on Monday passed a $465 million supplemental spending bill that would push millions of COVID-focused dollars to small businesses, direct care workers, and testing and vaccination efforts.

The bill, which includes $220 million to extend unemployment benefits to 26 weeks through March, will head next to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s desk for her signature.

The Republican-led Legislature had negotiated with the Democratic governor for roughly three weeks after Whitmer asked for a $734 million supplemental and $100 million in direct financial support for small businesses and families.

The supplemental passed 97-5 by the House includes $55 million in small business survival grants, $57 million for vaccination operations and $22.5 million for testing of vulnerable populations.

Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, said the House looked for ways to help families and businesses struggling because of COVID-19 closures but he added the best way to help would be “to follow the science and safely and securely reopen Michigan’s schools and small businesses.” A long-term plan that includes metrics-based COVID standards is still needed, he said.

“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,” Chatfield said in a statement.

There still is more work to be done to grow the state’s economy and defeat the novel coronavirus but the state stimulus plan for businesses and laid-off workers is a good start, Gov. Whitmer said in the statement. But Congress’ relief package also will be essential.

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