Rep. Beth Griffin of Mattawan today voted in favor of a comprehensive COVID-19 recovery plan to protect public health and allow students to catch up on lost learning, while helping families and job providers bounce back from economic shutdowns.
The $3.5 billion plan – consisting of federal relief and state funds – advances to the Senate for further consideration.
“This plan will help Southwest Michigan and our entire state move forward from this tremendously challenging and difficult past year,” Griffin said. “We must improve the state’s vaccination program so people can be protected from the virus and return to normalcy. We’ve got to get kids back in the classroom – they have missed too much in recent months, academically and socially. And we’ve got to give struggling families and small businesses a lifeline to make it through to the better days ahead. The House recovery plan does all that and more.”
Highlights of the House plan include:
Fighting the virus: Additional resources for vaccine distribution and COVID testing would be allocated quarterly as needed – rather than all at once — to allow more legislative review of the process and ensure funds aren’t squandered. The Legislature approved more than $50 million for vaccine distribution in December. This new plan provides an additional initial investment of $22 million for vaccine distribution, and $144 million for COVID testing. Other resources will be held in reserve for when they are needed.
Helping kids: Many students in Michigan haven’t seen the inside of a classroom in nearly a year. Many have not been allowed to participate in sports. The House plan provides $363 million statewide for districts committing to in-person instruction by Feb. 15, provides support through federal Title I dollars, and funds benchmark assessments to help determine where students stand after this tumultuous year. A voluntary K-8 summer school program would be funded with $135 million – plus $1,000 incentives for participating teachers, $250 incentives for participating staff, and up to $250 to help families cover associated costs such as transportation and tutoring. A high school credit recovery program would also be available.
Helping families: Families have been pushed to the brink by the governor’s COVID restrictions, which continue to be among the harshest in the nation. The House plan provides $510 million in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program funding, while other investments support meals for seniors, mental health, and substance abuse prevention and treatment. Families also are eligible for rent and utility assistance, and a deposit into the unemployment benefits trust fund helps ensure those laid off because of COVID restrictions will continue to receive the benefits they’ve been promised.
Helping job providers: Restaurants and other small businesses – along with the workers who depend on them — are fighting for economic survival. The House plan supports businesses restricted by the governor’s COVID orders with a $415 million grant program, support for property tax relief, and help for afflicted job providers who pay into the unemployment benefits system.
The recovery plan is included in House Bills 4019 and 4047-49.
Rep. Beth Griffin of Mattawan today reiterated that a federal government bonus unemployment payment program must end as scheduled Sept. 4. “This is a program that, while important in the early months of the pandemic, became outdated and should have ended long ago,” said Griffin, chair of the Michigan House Workforce, Trades and Talent Committee. […]
House Workforce, Trades and Talent Committee Chair Beth Griffin talks about Committee testimony Thursday on HB 4471, which would prohibit Michigan businesses from requiring a number of vaccinations, including the COVID-19 vaccination, as a condition of employment.