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Rep. Wendzel supports emergency COVID appropriations
RELEASE|March 3, 2021

Rep. Pauline Wendzel today voted in favor of a comprehensive plan to protect public health and help Michigan bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The plan receiving legislative approval helps struggling families and job providers, gets students back in classrooms, and protects people from the virus with more resources for vaccination and testing.

“Through no fault of their own, small business owners, their employees, our front-line heroes, and every resident of our community has in one way or another been impacted by this virus,” Rep. Wendzel said.  “The plan passed through the legislature today appropriates billions more in desperately needed funding to help those hardest hit by this pandemic.” 

Rep. Wendzel continued: “There are any number of issues where Republicans and Democrats might fight and play politics, but appropriating funding to help our communities recover from this virus shouldn’t be one of them.  I hope our governor feels the same way and will sign this bipartisan bill package into law.”   

Highlights of the estimated $4.25 billion plan including state and federal resources:

Helping families: The plan provides $600 million in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program funding, while other investments support meals for seniors, mental health, and substance abuse prevention and treatment. Families also are eligible for rent and utility assistance, and a deposit into the unemployment benefits trust fund helps ensure those laid off because of COVID restrictions will continue to receive the benefits they’ve been promised.

Helping kids: The plan provides additional funding for districts committing to restore in-person instruction by March 22 – the equivalent of about $450 per student — and funds benchmark assessments to help determine where students stand after this tumultuous year. A voluntary K-8 summer school program and a credit recovery program for high school students would be funded with $135 million. The summer school plan additionally provides $1,000 incentives for participating teachers, $250 incentives for participating staff, and up to $250 to help families cover associated costs such as transportation and tutoring.

Helping job providers: The plan supports businesses restricted by the governor’s COVID orders with a $426 million grant program, including help with reimbursement of liquor, health inspection and other fees. The package also includes support for property tax relief, and help for afflicted job providers who pay into the unemployment benefits system.

Fighting the virus:  The plan immediately provides more support for vaccines and COVID testing, in addition to the funds that were previously approved by the Legislature in December. Direct care workers on the front lines of fighting the virus would receive an additional $2.25 per hour through September.

The plan does not include money for some items the governor proposed – such as economic development initiatives– because those issues aren’t related to COVID. The comprehensive plan approved by the Legislature also keeps some federal resources in reserve to ensure they are available when needed and not wasted.

The plan also provides an opportunity for the governor to allow local health departments to make their own science-based decisions about whether their local schools should be open in the future – rather than leaving the entire state vulnerable to the governor’s unilateral decisions. Most importantly, the plan also fights to give the people of Michigan – through their elected representatives in the Legislature – a voice in how long emergency health orders last beyond their original 28-day length.

“Since the beginning of this pandemic, I’ve argued that no one person, regardless of party, should have unilateral and unchecked power,” Rep. Wendzel said.  “This plan finally gives the people’s branch of the government a seat at the table.”

Rep. Wendzel concluded: “We’ve proven with our historic auto-insurance reform package, the return to learn plan, and all of our criminal justice initiatives that when we work together, the people of Michigan benefit.  It’s time to end one-person rule and finally get past this pandemic – together.”

House Bills 4047-9 are expected to soon advance to the governor for her consideration.

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