Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday outlined her plan for a new $5.6 billion COVID-19 relief bill. Most of the funds for businesses, unemployment benefits, schools and vaccine distribution come from the federal government, with about $575 million from the state.
“To help grow and strengthen our economy, we must provide crucial support for our families, small businesses, and frontline workers,” said Whitmer. “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.”
There’s about $2 billion in education funding to help meet Whitmer’s goal of offering an in-person learning option in schools by March 1. There is $90 million for COVID-19 vaccine distribution, as well as $575 million to expand COVID testing, tracing and lab capacity in Michigan. The governor also wants increased rental assistance, unemployment benefits and food assistance.
And the plan includes $225 million for three new programs from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC):
- The Michigan Mainstreet Initiative aims to stabilize the small business community by securing grants for restaurants and other place-based businesses.
- The Michigan Microenterprise Support Initiative is for small businesses with less than nine employees.
- The Business Accelerator and Resiliency Initiative will provide grants to high-tech startups.
Leaders in the GOP-controlled Legislature have clashed with Whitmer over her pandemic health orders since last spring, with House Appropriations Chair Thomas Albert (R-Lowell) threatening this month not to pass any more aid unless Whitmer’s administration lifts the few remaining restrictions, like on in-person dining.