Whitmer vetoes GOP bill axing pandemic jobless benefits

    Gov. Gretchen Whitmer | Whitmer office photo

    Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday vetoed a Republican bill that would have ended emergency unemployment benefits in Michigan.

    Under House Bill 4344, sponsored by Rep. Jeff Yaroch (R-Richmond), Michigan would have followed what 26 red states have done and ended the $300 per week supplemental federal jobless benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic that has left more than 600,000 Americans dead and sickened 34.1 million.

    In Michigan, 898,626 people have tested positive for COVID-19 and 19,862 have died.

    Without the emergency unemployment benefits, Michigan workers get $362 per week in regular aid, which has not increased since 2002. That’s less than half the maximum in Minnesota, another Great Lakes State, which tops out at $740 per week.

    Business lobbyists and Republicans have been pushing for the benefits cuts for months, with U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Grand Rapids) leading a May letter of all seven GOP congressional members to Whitmer calling for her to end the emergency aid.

    On Tuesday, Michigan GOP Chair Ron Weiser accused Whitmer of “kick[ing small business owners] when they’re down” by “paying people to stay home and not work.”

    Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.