(The Center Square) – Michigan House Republicans on Tuesday unveiled a $13 billion spending plan for COVID-19 recovery fueled by federal stimulus dollars.
“First and foremost, this plan continues our commitment to Michigan families decimated by COVID-19 and the governor’s pandemic orders,” Rep. Thomas Albert, R-Lowell, said in a statement. “We’re targeting relief where it’s needed most, helping kids catch up on lost learning, and providing resources to workers and communities struggling to stay afloat after this devastating past year,” Albert said.
“At the same time, we’ve got to plan ahead. We have a unique opportunity to invest in roads, broadband and other infrastructure Michigan needs to emerge from the pandemic with a stronger foundation. And we have a responsibility to prepare for the day our state budget is no longer artificially propped up by billions of dollars in federal aid. Our national and state economic policies over the past year have been dangerously unsustainable, and we must take steps now to put our state in a better financial position moving forward.”
The House supplemental budget plan includes $3.2 billion from federal relief approved in December, $8.6 billion in federal relief approved in March, and $1.3 billion in state general fund resources. The plan includes:
- $743 million for food assistance and $481 million to assist with rent, utility, and energy bills.
- $4.8 billion for students and schools to plug academic learning loss and $1.4 billion is provided for early childhood care.
- $400 million to help people move off unemployment and return to work, $686 million for local governments, and $205 million for renovations at mental health facilities.
- $1.2 billion for roads (including $700 million to pay down bond debt), $250 million for water and sewer replacement grants, and $150 million for rural broadband.
- $180 million for vaccine distribution and more than $550 million for additional COVID testing.
- Improving future state finances by more quickly paying off Flint water settlement debt ($595 million), the Michigan Venture Fund ($20 million), and other obligations, as well as injecting $350 million to the state’s rainy day fund.
“These are important steps for Michigan taxpayers and families,” Albert said. “It will save money and improve state services over the long run – while making sure our kids aren’t asked to pay our bills down the road.”
The plan would restrict the State Administrative Board authority, which Gov. Gretchen Whitmer used in 2019 to transfer $600 million from its Legislature-approved purposes into her preferred programs, restricts transfer only up to $200,000.
Republicans tied about $6 billion in suggested House plan spending for schools, hazard pay for state employees, and road debt is to this measure’s approval.
“We want to make sure money intended to help kids is used to help kids, and money that’s intended to help roads will help roads,” Albert said.
The House plan also allocated money to investigate Whitmer’s COVID-19 nursing home policies and to study pandemic orders’ effects, according to a press release.
On April 12, Whitmer unveiled her $14 billion COVID-19 recovery plan.