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Michigan House Republicans release COVID-19 relief plan

Legislative Republicans are targeting jobs, families, education and vaccine rollouts for their $3.5 billion dollar plan.

LANSING, Mich. — House Republicans in Lansing have released their COVID-19 recovery plan. It's a $3.5 billion proposal which would utilize both federal ($2.4 billion) and state dollars ($1.1 billion). This is a breakdown of some of the key areas Republicans want to address, and how much they'd spend on them:

ECONOMY & FAMILIES

  • $150 million deposit into the unemployment trust fund.
  • $55 million to Michigan job providers to offset unemployment costs.
  • $415 million to restaurants and other small businesses.
  • $38.5 million to local businesses for reimbursement of liquor license and health department inspection fees.
  • $22 million to businesses for 2020 summer or winter property tax penalties.
  • $165 million for rent and utility relief.
  • $510 million in additional funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

EDUCATION

  • $363 million to school districts committing to in-person learning by Feb. 15. Another $1.65 billion in federal Title I funds would be available. But Republicans are also demanding that the state could not shut down in-person learning or sports. That power would transfer to local districts and local health departments.
  • $135 million for a voluntary, in-person summer school semester for Kindergarten through 8th grade students. Specifically aimed at helping kids recover from learning loss during the pandemic. There's also a credit recovery option for high school students. Plus, an additional $15 million targeted for before-and-after school programs. 
  • $21 million for summer school teachers and support staff.
  • $5.8 million for transportation, tutoring and other costs for families utilizing summer school.

VACCINE ROLLOUT

  • $22 million (quarterly) for oversight of Gov. Whitmer's vaccine distribution plan.  
  • $144 million (quarterly) for virus testing.

In addition to the items above, Republicans want to increase assistance for meals for seniors, child care and development, mental health services, substance abuse prevention and treatment, rent and utility relief, and property tax relief.

In a release, House Appropriations Chair Rep. Thomas Albert (R-Lowell) said, "People across Michigan are struggling mightily because of COVID restrictions, and this plan is laser-focused on getting them the help they need. The goal here is to provide much-needed hope for job providers in danger of closing their doors forever, families struggling to stay above water, and school kids suffering academically and emotionally."

Albert says discussion on the plan will begin in Wednesday's House Appropriations Committee meeting.

The GOP plan is much cheaper than Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's COVID relief proposal. The Democratic governor is pushing a much more expensive $5.6 billion plan. Her three pillars are public health, jobs and the economy, and education.

It's likely neither House Republicans nor Gov. Whitmer's full plans become law, as power in Lansing is currently divided; Republicans control both chambers of the legislature, but a Democrat is in the governor's mansion with veto powers.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer released the following statement Wednesday:

"We are pleased to see that House Republicans are embracing the key elements of Governor Whitmer's MI COVID Recovery Plan that prioritizes vaccine distribution, support for small businesses, and getting our kids back in the classroom," said Communications Director Tiffany Brown. "Governor Whitmer is ready and eager to work with Republicans in the legislature to pass a bipartisan economic recovery plan that supports our small businesses and helps get families back on their feet. It is also crucial that we pass a plan that helps vaccinate our educators and puts more dollars into classrooms so we can get our kids back in school safely while staying focused on protecting public health. This is not the time for partisan games. It's time to get to work."

Credit: WZZM

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