As the state is poised to secure more than $18 billion in federal funding available through the American Rescue Plan Act signed by last month, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced this week her funding priorities.
Whitmer and the GOP-led Legislature clashed for several months over spending more than $5 billion from the December COVID relief bill signed by then-President Donald Trump and yet to agree to a plan for about $2 billion of that. On Monday, Whitmer said she “looks forward” to working with the Legislature on allocating the new funds.
“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest billions in Michigan’s families, communities, schools, and small businesses,“ said Whitmer. “The American Rescue Plan will help us build back better, preparing our state for the future while creating thousands of jobs and uplifting working families.“
The American Rescue Plan Act, the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief measure, was signed by President Joe Biden. It cleared Congress in March. Of it, Michigan is expected to receive $5.7 billion in additional federal funding, in addition to $4.4 billion directed to local governments and $3.9 billion to K-12 schools. In addition, some residents are receiving federal stimulus checks.
Whitmer said that her priority areas for investment “will have sustainable and long-term benefits.” They include job creation, infrastructure, access to health care, and children and their education. She wants the money to help local governments, businesses, school districts and families continue to recover from the impact of a pandemic that has killed more than 16,500 Michiganders.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that Michigan leads the nation in documented coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents over the last seven days. Michigan has 510.5 cases per 100,000 residents. New York is second with 510.1 cases per 100,000 residents.
“Michiganders expect and deserve state leaders to work together to ensure the spending of the federal funds is done in a way that transforms Michigan into a better place and helps our residents and businesses,“ said David Massaron, state budget director. “Michigan will be placed at a competitive disadvantage compared to other states if we do not get this right. This type of funding opportunity is rare, and these dollars must be invested wisely to contribute to sustainable and shared prosperity.”
Whitmer in February announced her Fiscal Year 2022 state budget proposal worth $67.1 billion. It represents a 7% increase from the current fiscal year’s $62.8 billion budget. The new fiscal year starts Oct. 1.
House Appropriations Chair Thomas Albert (R-Lowell) responded to Whitmer, saying the state House will “move beyond broad ideas and will offer concrete solutions to move Michigan forward.”
“It’s important we adopt a plan that helps struggling Michigan families and job providers, allows students to catch up on lost learning, lays a solid foundation for the state as it emerges from the pandemic, and prepares for the day federal aid inevitably runs out,” said Albert.