Statewide Business Organizations: Unify Behind Legislation to Bring Financial Relief to States

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Today, the Detroit Regional Chamber and 14 other statewide business organizations called on Michigan’s Congressional Delegation to unify behind smart compromise Federal legislation to provide financial relief to Michigan, and other states, to address tax revenue loss due to the COVID-19 crisis. Congressional support would be a significant enabler in businesses bringing back employees, help struggling families with needed services, and to speed economic revival across Michigan.

Download the full letter or read it below:


To Michigan’s Congressional Delegation:

Thank you for your important public service on behalf of Michigan and our nation at this critical time. We appreciate and acknowledge that the Congress and the President came together in record time and with record levels of financial support to respond to the impact of the COVID crisis. The resources provided by the Federal Government have been instrumental in sustaining many during this difficult time.

Of course, further action at the local, state, and national levels will be necessary. Representing a collective of Michigan’s key business representatives, we come together to urge Michigan’s Congressional delegation to unify behind smart compromise Federal legislation to provide financial relief to Michigan, and other states, to address tax revenue loss due exclusively to the COVID crisis. This bi-partisan action will serve as a significant enabler in businesses bringing back employees, help struggling families with needed services, and to speed economic revival across Michigan.

Federal Recovery Aid to State and Local Governments
The CARES Act provided $150 billion to assist state and local governments with direct COVID- related expenses, and this financial support has been instrumental in helping to minimize state budget cuts for the current fiscal year. Looking forward, however, the combined $5 to $6 billion net loss in state revenue over fiscal years 2020 and 2021, entirely caused by the pandemic, will force the most extreme reductions in public services at the moment our citizens need assistance the most. Michigan, has been a leader in fiscal responsibility for the last decade, balancing budgets and paying down debt. We unite in the request that Michigan’s Congressional delegation work to secure additional appropriations to support state and local governments, consistent with Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Jerome Powell’s call for additional Congressional action to aid our economic recovery.

Collectively, we urge compromise and prompt action. We agree that any such support from Congress must be sufficient to address the pressing needs of the public and based on a multi-factor formula that considers a state’s population and level of COVID impact. While we advocate for the greatest level of flexibility, we agree the purpose of these funds is to provide necessary and direct public services to help our citizens deal with the impact of the COVID crisis in their communities and households. We also believe the formula should reward states, like Michigan, that have effectively managed their pension obligations and debt. Michigan’s Congressional Delegation

Liability Protection for Businesses Operating in Good Faith
In addition to Federal assistance to help address the significant budget imbalance left by tax revenue losses due to the COVID crisis, we also urge a bipartisan compromise that will help ensure businesses are able to safely bring back their employees through careful liability protection for businesses. While a statewide poll by the Detroit Regional Chamber found that 77% of voters “trust their employer to keep them safe,” employees and employers alike are nervous about resuming operations. Business owners fear that if they can survive to idle their business in order to help flatten the curve of the virus, they will not be able to survive legal action resulting from an infected employee – even if they follow all national, state, local, and industry guidelines.

While businesses that act with negligence, ignorance, or malice should be offered no protections, businesses that operate in good faith need liability protection in order to welcome their employees and customers. We urge you to find a reasonable compromise that balances protections for employers and employees as well as recognizes the unchartered health, economic and legal landscape the COVID crisis has forced upon us.

The last decade has demonstrated Michigan’s bi-partisan record of sound fiscal management. The State has frequently completed budgets early, has paid down long-term debt, reduced pension obligations, and built-up a rainy-day fund that has helped address the current year’s shortfall. After a decade of cost-saving reform, balancing Michigan’s budget without further damaging our already devastated economy will be impossible without a Federal partnership. Thank you for your partnership in serving the citizens of Michigan.

Thank you for your partnership in serving the citizens of Michigan.

Sandy K. Baruah
President and CEO
Detroit Regional Chamber

Rich Studley
President and CEO
Michigan Chamber of Commerce

Doug Rothwell
President and CEO
Business Leaders for Michigan

Brian Calley
President
Small Business Association of Michigan

John Walsh
President and CEO
Michigan Manufacturing Association

Rick Baker
President and CEO
Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce

Stacie Bytwork
Chairperson
Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance

Warren Call
President and CEO
Traverse Connect

Tim Daman
President and CEO
Lansing Regional Chamber

Tim Herman
President and CEO
Flint and Genesee Chamber of Commerce

Veronica Horn
President and CEO
Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce

Diane Keller
President and CEO
Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber

Ron Kitchens
Senior Partner
Southwest Michigan First

Tony Stamas
President and CEO
Midland Business Alliance

Ryan Tarrant
President and CEO
Bay Area Chamber of Commerce


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