Rep. Beth Griffin of Mattawan today voted to finalize the Michigan Legislature’s comprehensive plan to protect public health and help students, families and job providers continue to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We could never have envisioned the difficulties and challenges brought by this past year – in Southwest Michigan and across the globe,” Griffin said. “This latest relief package approved by the Legislature will help significantly by improving the state’s vaccination program – a critical step toward helping people return to their normal routines.
“As a former teacher, I am extremely devoted to the portion of this plan that provides desperately needed support to get kids back to in-person learning. They’ve missed too much – we are providing the resources to help them catch up. This plan also will help families and job providers who have been devastated by the events of this past year stay afloat financially. We have got to stick together, keep fighting, and remember there are better days ahead. This plan will help us get there.”
Highlights of the estimated $4.25 billion plan including state and federal resources:
Helping families: The plan provides $600 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 kids: The plan provides additional funding for districts committing to restore in-person instruction by March 22 – the equivalent of about $450 per student — and funds benchmark assessments to help determine where students stand after this tumultuous year. A voluntary K-8 summer school program and a credit recovery program for high school students would be funded with $135 million. The summer school plan additionally provides $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. “We are listening to the parents who have reached out to us concerned about their children’s education and well-being,” Griffin said. “And we are taking action to help them. We are voting to help put our kids safely back into the classroom with about $2 billion in resources for education.”
Helping job providers: The plan supports businesses restricted by the governor’s COVID orders with a $426 million grant program, including help with reimbursement of liquor, health inspection and other fees. The package also includes support for property tax relief, and help for afflicted job providers who pay into the unemployment benefits system.
Fighting the virus: The plan immediately provides more support for vaccines and COVID testing, in addition to the funds that were previously approved by the Legislature in December. Direct care workers on the front lines of fighting the virus would receive an additional $2.25 per hour through September.
The plan also provides an opportunity for the governor to allow local health departments to make their own science-based decisions about whether their local schools should be open in the future – rather than leaving the entire state vulnerable to the governor’s unilateral decisions. The plan also fights to give the people of Michigan – through their elected representatives in the Legislature – a voice in how long emergency health orders last beyond their original 28-day length.
“States across our country are distributing vaccines and beginning to revamp their economies safely and responsibly,” Griffin said. “The governor has continuously hindered our businesses’ ability to enter the post-COVID economy at full strength, making it incumbent upon the Legislature to put certain stipulations on her spending. Our budget will enhance vaccine distribution, give direct care workers another raise, and help small businesses remain solvent. The stipulations placed on this budget will prevent any efforts to alter and or divert spending from these programs.”
This plan does not include money for some items the governor proposed – such as corporate giveaways for new job creation – because those issues aren’t related to COVID. The comprehensive plan approved by the Legislature also keeps some federal resources in reserve to ensure they are available when needed and not wasted.
House Bills 4047-9 are expected to soon advance to the governor for her consideration.
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.