State Rep. Joe Bellino, of Monroe, today announced a comprehensive recovery plan to help the state bounce back from COVID-19.
The plan initially provides about $3.5 billion in federal and state funds to help struggling families and job providers, get kids back in school and allow them to participate in sports, and bring accountability to the governor’s heavily flawed vaccine distribution program.
“This plan is part of our ongoing efforts to help families and job providers who have been struggling for a long time – going on a year to be exact – because of this pandemic,” Bellino said. “It’ll be the light at the end of a long dark tunnel for many, including business owners and their employees, and our state’s students and teachers.”
Highlights of the plan include:
- Helping struggling families and job providers: Families forced to the brink will benefit from federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program support. Other assistance includes funding for meals for seniors, childcare and development, mental health, and substance abuse prevention and treatment. The plan also includes rent and utility relief to ease pressure on family budgets, and property tax relief for job providers. Restaurants and other businesses crippled by the governor’s economic shutdown orders would be supported by a $415 million grant program, $38.5 million to reimburse liquor license and health department fees, and investments to support the unemployment benefits trust fund while providing relief for afflicted job providers who pay into the system.
- Distributing COVID vaccine more effectively and efficiently: Additional resources would be allocated periodically as needed – rather than all at once — to allow more legislative review of the process and ensure funds aren’t squandered. The Legislature approved more than $50 million for vaccine distribution in December. This new plan goes beyond that with an additional initial investment of $22 million for vaccine distribution, and $144 million for COVID testing. Other resources will be held in reserve for when they are needed.
- Getting kids back in the classroom: Grant funding will help local school districts provide in-person K-8 summer school and before-and-after school programs – enabling kids to catch up on lost learning. The program is supported by stipends to help families cover costs, and financial incentives for participating teachers and staff. Additional assistance of up to $250 per student will help districts committing to reopen in-person instruction by Feb. 15. Federal Title I support also will be distributed, and more money will support benchmark assessments to figure out where kids stand academically after this tumultuous past year. The $2.1 billion education plan is contingent upon approval of a law moving power to close in-person learning and sports activities away from the governor’s administration to local health departments, which would have that authority following health metrics.
“I look forward to working with the governor on behalf of Michigan families,” Bellino said. “It’s my hope Gov. Whitmer will realize we are on the same side here and work with the legislative branch in assisting Michigan families. This plan addresses the needs of our families and will provide the help and hope our residents desperately need and certainly deserve.”
Rep. Joe Bellino, of Monroe, released the following statement in regard to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) decision to adjust its vaccination tracking numbers to include inoculations of Michiganders vaccinated in other states.
State Rep. Joe Bellino yesterday sent a letter to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer condemning her hypocritical behavior last weekend. The governor was pictured at an East Lansing basement restaurant violating state health department COVID-19 orders.
State Rep. Joe Bellino, of Monroe, today questioned the governor for taking more than 12 months to determine a data-based reopening plan for the state of Michigan, but welcomed many of the science-backed changes. Bellino said Michiganders are ready to resume normal life and noted how important many of the updated metrics will be for that process.