Senate Republicans rolled out their $2 billion COVID-19 relief package Tuesday. Unsurprisingly, it looks different than what Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has in mind.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Jim Stamas (R-Midland) says the funding will go toward increasing COVID-19 testing, distributing vaccines and supporting students, frontline workers, small businesses and unemployed Michiganders.
“This plan is responsive and responsible. It helps meet the dire needs facing our state and our people while also being smart in how we spend federal assistance dollars,” Stamas said. “Instead of issuing a blank check for the governor to use without a detailed plan, our plan funds our state’s most pressing needs and saves additional resources so we can continue to assess the situation and have the ability to respond to problems as they arise.”
Whitmer’s plan involves allocating some of the $5 billion of federal relief aid already awarded to the state to COVID-19 funding and vaccines, as well as helping businesses, schools and frontline workers. But it also includes a list of proposals that Republicans have shot down, like expanding broadband internet in rural communities, providing funds for a “Capitol security weapons ban,” providing funds for job-training programs and waiving fines for property owners who didn’t pay their taxes on time this summer.
But some Republicans, including Stamas, had said that they won’t allocate the relief funding until the governor rolls back some of her COVID-19 restrictions, namely reopening restaurants for indoor seating and lifting the ban on contact sports. She has since done both of these.
Last week, House Republicans passed their own plan.
The House plan proposed allocating about $3.5 billion, but would withhold billions in federal relief funds. And instead of allocating the funds all at once, the plan is to roll out funds on a quarterly basis.
The House plan would also require anyone receiving a vaccine administered using funds from the supplemental to be “provided with information or informed if and in what manner the development of the vaccine utilized aborted fetal tissue or human embryonic stem cell derivation lines.” The measure is backed by Right to Life of Michigan.
The Senate Republican supplemental plan would allocate the least amount of federal funds between the three plans released so far.