Michigan House GOP Unveils Rebuttal to Whitmer’s COVID-19 Recovery Plan

January 27, 2021 by Reece Nations

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan House Appropriations Committee Chairman Thomas Albert announced Republicans’ rebuttal to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s proposed COVID-19 recovery plan

The House Republicans’ plan would provide roughly $3.5 billion in federal and state funds for employers, families, schools and vaccine distribution, according to a statement from Michigan House Republicans. Whitmer’s initial proposal called for roughly $5 billion in COVID-19 relief funds. 

“To help grow and strengthen our economy, we must provide crucial support for our families, small businesses, and frontline workers,” Whitmer said in a written statement. “The MI COVID Recovery Plan will help small businesses get through the winter, help us put more shots in arms and ramp up vaccine distribution, and get our kids back on track in school. It’s the right thing to do to protect public health and jumpstart our economy, and I’m ready to work with the legislature to get it done.” 

Certain provisions proposed by Whitmer — such as corporate incentives to encourage job creation and metal detectors for the state’s Capitol building — were omitted from the GOP plan on the grounds that they lacked direct relevance to pandemic relief. 

The breakdown of the GOP plan falls into three categories: the economy, schools and vaccinations. The House Republicans also want Whitmer and state health department officials to relinquish their authority to prohibit in-person schooling or sporting events in response to a health emergency, instead granting local health departments that authority.

“I have reviewed the governor’s budget request and it is off the mark by a wide margin,” Rep. Albert, R-Lowell, said in a written statement. “The governor’s plan is focused on corporate giveaways and growing government. Our plan will provide hope that people might still have a livelihood. Her plan has talking points about supporting summer school – our plan actually puts forth funding to help schools make it a reality.” 

Albert continued, “The governor simply wants a blank check to continue a broken vaccine rollout strategy. Our plan requires transparency and accountability, forcing the administration to start delivering results. It’s in everyone’s best interests for the Legislature to be heavily involved in the state’s COVID-19 recovery plan – and we’re getting involved.” 

Republicans are calling for $22 million in funds for “closer monitoring and accountability” of the governor’s vaccine distribution plan, according to a written statement from Albert’s office. The Republicans’ plan also calls for $144 million in additional funds to help facilitate testing. 

Whitmer’s initial proposal endeavored to utilize federal funding to increase statewide vaccine distribution to 50,000 shots per day, according to a written statement from the governor’s office. Those funds would be used for financial support to local health departments’ vaccine administration costs, staff pay, equipment and supplies. 

The GOP plan would allocate $150 million for unemployment benefits, $55 million for local job provider assistance and $415 million in aid for restaurants and other small businesses, according to a House GOP recovery plan outline

“While still down more than $1 billion compared to projections before the pandemic, the state’s fiscal year 2021 revenues were raised upwards primarily due to impacts from the federal stimulus along with Gov. Whitmer’s strong leadership,” State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks said in a written statement. “Our economic recovery is highly dependent on getting the public health situation under control, and her actions to address the COVID-19 pandemic have improved our fiscal outlook. “

Eubanks continued, “The MI COVID Recovery Plan will help us jumpstart our economy. Our economic recovery this year will continue to depend on the course of the pandemic and additional economic relief coming from Washington D.C. This plan will direct dollars where they are needed most and will help us achieve the economic recovery we are all eagerly waiting for.” 

Further, the Republican’s plan secures $38.5 million to reimburse fees for liquor licenses and health department inspections, $22 million for summer or winter 2020 property tax assistance to job providers, $165 million for rent and utility relief for families and $510 million for SNAP benefits. 

In addition to these funds, the plan would set aside $363 million for school districts committed to opening for in-person teaching by Feb. 15, $135 million for a voluntary, in-person summer semester intended to help children in grades K-8 catch up on schooling, $21 million for teachers and school staff helping students with over-the-summer catch-up, and $5.8 million to help families participating in summer school transportation, tutoring and other costs. 

“We are pleased to see that House Republicans are embracing the key elements of Gov. Whitmer’s MI COVID Recovery Plan that prioritizes vaccine distribution, support for small businesses, and getting our kids back in the classroom,” Communications Director Tiffany Brown said in a written statement. “Governor Whitmer is ready and eager to work with Republicans in the legislature to pass a bipartisan economic recovery plan that supports our small businesses and helps get families back on their feet.”

Brown continued, “It is also crucial that we pass a plan that helps vaccinate our educators and puts more dollars into classrooms so we can get our kids back in school safely while staying focused on protecting public health. This is not the time for partisan games. It’s time to get to work.” 

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