Senate passes FY 2022 budget plan

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas this week led Senate passage of a budget plan that meets the pressing issues facing Michigan and its people, continues to provide critical services and makes key investments to improve the state.

“A budget — whether for a household, a small business or all of state government — is a statement of priorities. Like any family or business, elected officials must decide how to best use our limited resources,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “It’s our responsibility to remember the reality being faced at family kitchen tables and in small businesses throughout Michigan as we make our spending decisions. This budget plan focuses on wisely investing our hardworking taxpayer dollars to benefit everyone in our state while living within our means.

“It is the next step in laying the groundwork for productive negotiations with the House and governor on enacting a budget by July that supports healthy families and communities, builds a healthier economy, and puts our state on a path for a healthy future.”

Senate Bill 83 would invest $15.8 billion in K-12 education, a total increase of $249 million. The bill dedicates an additional $20 million to assist students dealing with mental health challenges and boosts preschool funding by $32 million to help reduce class sizes. It also dedicates $1.7 billion to help cover the costs of school employee retirement.

“To help create a healthier future in Michigan, we continue to focus on investing in our children’s education. Our plan continues a record level of support for Michigan schools and increases the minimum foundation allowance by $250 to $8,361 per pupil,” Stamas said.

The Senate budget plan also includes $72 million for competitive and need-based scholarships for higher education students, $40 million in the Going Pro program to provide grants to support employee training, $30 million for the Michigan Reconnect program to provide tuition-free community college and training, $77 million to provide child care for more families, and $161 million for wage increases for direct care workers and front-line workers at child care institutions.

The bills prioritize more revenue sharing funding for local governments, more resources for state road and bridge construction, $2.2 billion for local transportation infrastructure projects, a 60% increase to the Pure Michigan campaign, a 50% boost for grants to help struggling veterans with expenses, and a new program to incentivize locals to reduce their long-term debts.

SBs 77 and 79-94 now head to the House of Representatives for consideration

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Editor’s note: The above photograph is available by clicking on the image or by visiting www.SenatorJimStamas.com/Photowire.

Photo caption: Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas, R-Midland, outlines a Senate budget plan for fiscal year 2022 during session on Tuesday. The Senate plan focuses on maintaining record funding for schools, meeting the pressing issues facing Michigan and its people, continuing to provide critical services and making key investments to improve the state.

Senate budget committee approves over $4.4B in federal funding

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas said the supplemental budget bills approved by the committee on Wednesday would invest over $4.4 billion in federal funding — including all the state’s remaining COVID-19 relief funds from December.

“This plan would continue to responsibly invest billions of dollars in federal assistance to provide much-needed relief to Michigan families, schools and communities and help get people back to work,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “Our goal is to continue to be responsible with how we use this once-in-a-lifetime federal support to maximize the benefits for everyone in our state. Much of the funding would help struggling families with food and rental assistance, provide important COVID-19 testing, and invest $1.4 billion in child care support to help people trying to return to work.

“We are also ensuring that this federal assistance is used with an eye toward making wise investments that will benefit us for years to come, such as enabling local communities to better improve their roads and helping schools educate our students.”

Senate Bill 36 includes $3.5 billion in federal and state funding, including:
• $1.4 billion in federal funding for child care grants to lower tuition
• $726 million in federal support for the Supplemental Food Assistance Program;
• $347 million in federal COVID-19 testing funding, including $20 million for testing in schools and $20 million for testing in corrections facilities;
• $378 million in emergency rental assistance;
• $35 million for substance abuse prevention and treatment;
• $32 million to address mental health issues during the pandemic;
• $4 million to provide home-delivered meals to seniors;
• $46 million in FEMA-approved payments for disaster assistance; and
• $260 million for hospitals and nursing facilities to help cover COVID-19-related costs.

The bill also invests $387 million in federal transportation funding. Of that funding, $261 million would be conditional upon the enactment of SB 394, which would direct $261 million of the federal funding to local governments for local road repair.

SB 216 includes $943 million to restore school funding previously vetoed by the governor, including $840 million in federal Emergency and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding, $10 million to reimburse parents for summer school expenses, and $87 million in federal Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund grants for nonpublic schools.

The ESSER funding was appropriated in House Bill 4048 but effectively vetoed by the governor with her veto of HB 4049. The other funding was included in both HB 4048 and SB 29 and vetoed by the governor.

SBs 36 and 216 now head to the full Senate for consideration.

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Stamas supports giving governor 2nd chance at relief funding

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas on Wednesday supported passage of supplemental bills to restore COVID-19 relief funding vetoed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

“Everyone deserves a second chance, and the bills will give the governor a second chance to provide critical COVID-19 relief to our struggling small businesses and families who desperately need it,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “Just a few weeks ago, we voted overwhelmingly to get more shots in arms, more kids in school and more small businesses back on their feet. Unfortunately, the governor vetoed much of it.

“None of this funding is tied to anything else, and we are giving her a chance to fix her mistake and support important funding to help small businesses stay afloat, replenish the Unemployment Trust Fund, safely reopen schools and reimburse parents for school expenses.”

Senate Bill 114 features $555 million in funding previously vetoed by the governor, including:
• $300 million in grants to offset property tax payments for affected homeowners and businesses facing financial ruin due to the governor’s shutdown orders.
• $150 million to repay the state’s Unemployment Trust Fund for fraudulent benefits paid out by the Unemployment Insurance Agency.
• $55 million for grants to help struggling businesses with unemployment taxes.
• $50 million to reimburse Michigan businesses that were charged licensing and inspection fees by the state even when their businesses were closed through no fault of their own.

SB 29 includes $10 million to reimburse parents for costs associated with summer school and $87 million in federal Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) grants for nonpublic schools.

The bills now head to House of Representatives for consideration.

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Stamas disappointed Whitmer chose ‘keeping her absolute power’ over additional school funding

LANSING, Mich. — After Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday signed a bipartisan COVID-19 relief supplemental budget plan while cutting millions of dollars in support for schools and small businesses and vetoing a measure limiting her unilateral power to shut down schools, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas, R-Midland, issued the following statement:

“I am disappointed the governor chose keeping her absolute power over getting more federal money out to our schools and providing relief to struggling small businesses. It is a sad day for our system of government, our students trying to catch up, and the family-owned businesses trying to survive after being shut down by the governor without a path for reopening.

“We worked hard to put together a responsible bipartisan plan for effectively using the federal COVID-19 funding to meet our state’s most critical needs, and I am glad the governor has agreed to help get more people the lifesaving vaccines, increase testing, provide vital rental assistance and support our direct-care and front-line workers.

“We have more to do, and I hope the governor will work with us and share her spending plans on how to best invest the remaining federal funds instead of just asking us to give her a blank check. We owe it to the Michigan people to ensure our federal assistance is directed to families and small businesses in need.”

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Michigan Legislature begins final passage of COVID-19 relief funding

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Thomas Albert on Tuesday said the Legislature has begun final legislative approval of a more than $4.2 billion COVID-19 relief funding package to protect people from the virus, help Michigan students safely return to school and assist Michiganders struggling financially due to Gov. Whitmer’s shutdowns.

“This plan responsibly and effectively puts billions of dollars in federal COVID-19 funding to use meeting our state’s most critical needs — getting more people the lifesaving vaccines, increasing testing and supporting our struggling families and job providers,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “While providing vital rental assistance, supporting our front-line workers and maintaining oversight over this important funding, this plan focuses heavily on educating our students. We’re directing $2 billion to help determine any learning loss due to the pandemic and help our affected students catch up.”

The COVID-19 relief bills were approved by the Senate on Tuesday and are expected to be passed by the House of Representatives on Wednesday. After passage by the House, the bills will go to the governor to be signed.

“Michigan families and job providers are struggling in ways we couldn’t have possibly imagined a year ago. This plan provides some much-needed relief, helps people cope with economic and social hardships, allows kids to catch up on lost learning, and boosts vaccination efforts so we can more quickly restore normalcy in our state,” said Albert, R-Lowell. “COVID-19 has been devastating on its own and the governor’s restrictions — among the harshest in the nation — have made things even harder. We’re providing another chance for the governor to stop focusing on her own power and start helping Michigan families, children and job providers.”

House Bill 4047 includes $2.3 billion in total funding to meet the goals of ensuring healthier families and communities and helping create a healthier economy, such as:
• $110 million in additional support for vaccine distribution. $36.7 million is dedicated to improving the governor’s poor vaccine rollout. The rest of the funds will be held in reserve until vaccine doses are available and the governor’s plan is completed.
• $204 million for COVID-19 testing, including $37.5 million to increase virus testing for students, teachers and staff in order to help in-person learning resume statewide as soon as possible. The funding also includes $25 million for nursing home testing.
• $370 million in contingent COVID-19 testing funds. This full-funding of testing is contingent on the governor signing Senate Bill 1, which would require the state health department to receive legislative approval of emergency orders beyond 28 days and to provide the science and data being used to make emergency public health declarations.
• $150 million to increase pay for direct care workers on the front lines of fighting the virus in hospitals and nursing homes.
• $33.4 million for mental health services and substance abuse prevention.
• $300 million to assist workers and businesses facing financial ruin due to the governor’s shutdown orders. These grants will offset property tax payments for affected businesses.
• $1.3 million to provide home-delivered meals to seniors, using organizations such as Meals on Wheels.
• $150 million to repay the state’s Unemployment Trust Fund for fraudulent benefits paid out by the Unemployment Insurance Agency.
• $283 million in emergency rental assistance to ensure Michiganders struggling financially due to the pandemic and Gov. Whitmer’s orders can remain in their homes.
• $55 million for grants to help struggling businesses with unemployment taxes.
• $50 million to reimburse Michigan businesses that were charged licensing and inspection fees by the state even when their businesses were closed through no fault of their own.

HB 4048 includes $2 billion in school funding to help build a healthier future, such as:
• A minimum of $450 per pupil to tackle learning loss associated with school closures.
• $189 million to support summer school to help students catch up.
• $10 million to reimburse parents for costs associated with summer school.
• $20 million for student mental health services.
• $11.7 million for benchmark assessments in reading and math.
• $87 million in federal Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) grants for nonpublic schools.

Over $840 million in the school funding in HB 4048 is tied to the governor signing HB 4049, which would prevent the Department of Health and Human Services director from issuing an emergency public health order that closes a school to in-person instruction or prohibits a qualified sporting event during a coronavirus epidemic. Sporting events would include certain events and team practices of schools, colleges and universities, and local organizations.

HB 4049 would also add four criteria that must be met for a local health department to close schools to in-person instruction or to prohibit qualified sporting events as part of a coronavirus emergency public health order, including:
• Confirmed local coronavirus cases rise above 55 per 1 million within a 14-day period.
• Percentage of local positive coronavirus tests rise above 10% within a 14-day period.
• Surge capacity falls below 20% in admissions or patient transfers for each local health facility.
• Coronavirus local hospitalizations increase by 25% or more within a 14-day period.

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Senate approves COVID-19 relief funding

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Thursday approved nearly $2 billion in COVID-19 relief funding to protect people from the virus and help Michigan students safely return to school.

“These measures responsibly invest billions of dollars in federal COVID-19 funding to meet the most critical needs facing Michigan families right now — more people getting vaccines, more testing and getting more students safely back in their classrooms,” said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas, R-Midland. “The Senate has now approved roughly $6 billion in COVID-19 relief to improve access to lifesaving vaccines while also supporting our front-line workers, students, small businesses and people trying to make ends meet.

“We must be smart in how we use this federal assistance to maximize the benefits to everyone in our state. To ensure we effectively use this vital relief throughout the pandemic, we are sending out nearly $2 billion in relief immediately and setting aside additional resources to be accessed as funding needs come up.”

Stamas said the funding in the reserve fund for vaccine distribution can be spent quickly with a simple transfer by the Senate and House Appropriations committees, instead of needing the Legislature to vote on another bill.

Senate Bill 114 includes funding to meet the goals of ensuring healthier families and communities, such as:
• $110 million in additional support for vaccine distribution. $36.7 million is dedicated to improving the governor’s poor vaccine rollout. The rest of the funds will be held in reserve until vaccine doses are available and the governor’s plan is completed.
• $150 million to increase pay for direct care workers on the front lines of fighting the virus in hospitals and nursing homes.
• $185 million for COVID-19 testing, including $75 million to increase virus testing for students, teachers and staff in order to help in-person learning resume statewide as soon as possible. The funding also includes $25 million for nursing home testing.
• $283 million in emergency rental assistance to ensure Michiganders struggling financially due to the pandemic and Gov. Whitmer’s orders can remain in their homes.

SB 29 includes $1.2 billion to help build a healthier future and includes:
• A minimum of $450 per pupil to tackle learning loss associated with school closures.
• $179 million to support summer school to help students catch up.
• $5.9 million to reimburse parents for costs associated with summer school.
• $20 million for student mental health services.
• $11.7 million for benchmark assessments in reading and math.
• $87 million in federal Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) grants for nonpublic schools.

The Senate is continuing to work on House Bill 4047, which includes over $590 million in funding to help create a healthier economy, including funding to assist workers and businesses facing financial ruin due to the governor’s shutdown orders, repay the state’s Unemployment Trust Fund for fraudulent benefits paid out by the Unemployment Insurance Agency, help struggling businesses with unemployment taxes, and reimburse Michigan businesses that were charged licensing and inspection fees by the state even when their businesses were closed through no fault of their own.

SBs 29 and 114 now head to the House of Representatives, and HB 4047 has been reported from the Senate Appropriations Committee and sent to the full Senate for consideration.

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Stamas: State needs metrics on how to reopen and stay open

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas on Wednesday called on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to release metrics on how Michigan’s economy can safely reopen and stay open.

“Michigan small family businesses and their workers need to know — and deserve to know — the data and thresholds being used by the governor regarding when they can reopen and stay open,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “Instead of continuing her punitive shutdowns and unnecessary restrictions that are jeopardizing lives and livelihoods, the governor should be open with the Michigan people about information she’s using and work with us on putting in place a clear set of guidelines, so everyone knows what to expect.”

Earlier this month, the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association outlined a roadmap to eventually restore normal operations within the hospitality industry — tying future decisions directly to the rate of positive coronavirus tests.

Under the plan, if the seven-day average positivity rate remained above 15% for 14 consecutive days, indoor dining would be closed. If it remained between 10% and 15% for seven consecutive days, indoor dining would be allowed with 25% capacity and a 10 p.m. curfew. If the seven-day average rate stayed between 7% and 10%, the capacity limit would move to 50%, and the curfew would end if the rate remained between 3% and 7%. If the rate was less than 3% for 14 consecutive days, there would be no restrictions.

According to the MI Safe Start Map, as of the last recorded update on Feb. 21, Michigan’s seven-day average positivity rate is currently 3.6%.

“I want to thank Sen. Jon Bumstead for taking the lead on legislation to enact an open and data-driven approach to restarting our economy,” Stamas said. “I hope the governor will adopt this idea and work with us on defeating the virus and also safely getting people back to work.”

Stamas comments on governor’s 2022 budget recommendation

LANSING, Mich. — After listening to State Budget Director Dave Massaron present Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s fiscal year 2022 state budget recommendation on Thursday, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas, R-Midland, issued the following statement:

“We are focused on protecting our people, winning the fight against this pandemic, and building a healthier and stronger Michigan. As we begin to craft a new budget, it should acknowledge the hardships Michigan families have faced — and continue to face — while also looking ahead at the needs of our people as we recover from this historic crisis.

“Our biggest challenge remains the coronavirus and its many effects on our families, students, workers and job providers. We’ve already approved over $4 billion in funding to support those affected by COVID-19, increase testing and help deliver the vaccines — and we’re proposing using another $2 billion in federal funding to boost this effort.

“The Senate’s priorities will continue to be to support struggling families and family-owned businesses, ensure our students get the education they need, increase COVID-19 testing and vaccine distribution, and help rebuild our economy — while living within our means.

“I support closing the gap in school funding, investing in our local infrastructure and depositing additional resources into the budget stabilization fund, but the devil is in the details on how to make it work. I am very concerned about the significant growth in spending and how we will pay for it in the long term when we run out of the one-time federal funding.

“Despite our differences, we have many of the same budget goals, and I look forward to working with the governor and our legislative colleagues to find common ground on a responsible spending plan that helps improve our state and the lives of our people.”

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Senate Republicans announce budget priorities

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas on Wednesday announced the Senate Republican caucus’s budget priorities in advance of Gov. Whitmer presenting her budget recommendation.

“Senate Republicans are focused on healthy families and communities, a healthier economy, and pursuing a healthy future for our state,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “The fiscal year 2022 budget is another opportunity to wisely invest the tax dollars of our hardworking people into the programs and functions that support them in leading healthier lives.

“The Senate will prioritize tax relief to help reduce the burden being felt around so many kitchen tables and reduce the cost of doing business in Michigan, so our family-owned businesses have a better chance of rebounding in the wake of repeated shutdowns. We will work to ensure parents who want to see their kids return to the classroom have that choice, increase testing capacity and availability, and increase vaccine distribution and availability.”

The Senate Republican budget priorities also include helping seniors live healthy, independent lives; stabilizing the unemployment trust fund; expanding mental health support services for students; continuing to support teacher retirement; and paying down debt.

“We are putting a priority on funding for infrastructure improvements for better roads and greater access to the internet across our state and working to help local governments replace lead drinking water lines,” Stamas said. “It is our expectation that our budget priorities represent an opportunity for bipartisan support from our colleagues across the aisle and the governor on a smart spending plan for Michigan.”

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Senate Republicans announce $2B relief plan to address effects of COVID-19 and Whitmer shutdowns

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Republicans on Tuesday announced a supplemental relief package that provides another $2 billion in funding needed for the fight against the virus and to assist Michigan families, workers and job providers struggling financially due to Gov. Whitmer’s shutdowns.

The plan builds on the over $4 billion previously dedicated by Senate Republicans over the last 10 months to fight the effects of the virus.

“With this latest effort, we will have invested over $6 billion in COVID-19 relief to increase testing, distribute lifesaving vaccines, educate our students, and support our front-line workers, our small businesses and those who are out of work,” said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas, R-Midland. “This plan is responsive and responsible. It helps meet the dire needs facing our state and our people while also being smart in how we spend federal assistance dollars.

“Instead of issuing a blank check for the governor to use without a detailed plan, our plan funds our state’s most pressing needs and saves additional resources so we can continue to assess the situation and have the ability to respond to problems as they arise.”

Stamas said the Senate Republican plan is guided by the caucus’s 2021 priorities released last month, which focus on making Michigan healthier both physically and economically.

To help ensure Healthier Families and Communities, the plan includes:
• $110 million in additional support for vaccine distribution. One-third of the funding is dedicated to improving the governor’s poor vaccine rollout. The rest of the funds will be held in reserve until the governor’s plan is completed.
• $170 million to increase pay for direct care workers on the front lines of fighting the virus in hospitals and nursing homes.
• $220 million in emergency rental assistance to ensure Michiganders struggling financially due to the pandemic and Gov. Whitmer’s orders can remain in their homes.
• $25 million for mental health services and substance abuse prevention.

To help create A Healthier Economy, the plan includes:
• $300 million to assist Michigan workers and businesses facing financial ruin due to Gov. Whitmer’s shutdown orders. These grants will offset property tax payments for businesses affected by the governor’s shutdowns.
• $150 million to help ensure the state’s Unemployment Trust Fund remains solvent after a year in which one in four Michiganders were out of work.
• $50 million to reimburse Michigan businesses who were charged licensing and inspection fees by the state even when their businesses were closed through no fault of their own.

To help build A Healthier Future, the plan includes:
• $450 per pupil — nearly $1 billion — to tackle learning loss associated with school closures, including funds to support summer school, mental health services and assessments.
• $75 million to increase virus testing for students, teachers and staff in order to help in-person learning resume statewide as soon as possible. An additional $110 million in testing funds will be appropriated when the Whitmer Administration finalizes their plan.

The general fund portion of the plan is included in Senate Bill 114, and the School Aid section will be inserted into SB 29. Both bills are sponsored by Stamas and have been referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

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