Whitmer to seek $100M COVID-19 relief plan
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wants state legislators to approve a $100 million COVID-19 relief plan when they return to session during December.
The Democratic governor sent a letter to leaders of the Republican-controlled Legislature asking for the state-based stimulus program that she said “will provide direct financial support to the families and small businesses that have been hit hardest by the pandemic.”
Whitmer’s request comes as legislators are scheduled for a return to session on Tuesday until Dec. 17 and Congress has been deadlocked in negotiations over potentially billions of dollars in emergency COVID-19 assistance.
“Michigan families are hurting, and while we must continue to advocate for meaningful support from the federal government, we simply cannot afford to wait,” Witmer wrote in Wednesday’s letter.
Whitmer acknowledged that development of the program will be complicated by tax revenue losses that have state government facing a potential $1 billion shortfall next year.
Whitmer also asked lawmakers to permanently extend longer-lasting unemployment benefits. Legislators approved bills in October to lengthen state unemployment benefits to 26 weeks, from 20 weeks, but those expire at the end of the year.
The states Republican Senate majority leader, Mike Shirkey, shares some policy interests with Whitmer and wants the December session to “be focused on an agenda of needs, not wants,” spokeswoman Amber McCann said.