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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Stamas comments on 2021 State of the State address

LANSING, Mich. — After listening to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s 2021 State of the State address virtually Wednesday night, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas, R-Midland, issued the following statement:

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a devastating effect on Michigan families, workers and small businesses. People are gathering in their houses and at office desks wondering how they are going to make it. They don’t need comforting talk; they need leaders who help them and trust them to safely reopen and get back to work.

“We must work together to rebuild a healthier Michigan. I remain committed to healthier families and communities by fighting COVID-19 and getting more vaccines to our families to allow us to return to a more normal life. I will continue to fight for our children, your hard-earned tax dollars and promoting economic freedom for a healthier economy and future. Michigan deserves nothing less.

“The budget challenges last year showed we can work together. In the face of historic deficits, we were able to come together to balance the 2020 budget and pass a responsible 2021 budget — while living within our means. I am confident that we can do that again, and I look forward to seeing the governor’s budget recommendation soon.”

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**Media Advisory** Stamas available for comments on 2021 State of the State address

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas will be available for comments on the governor’s 2021 State of the State address the following day.

Who:
Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

What:
Reaction and comments on the governor’s 2021 State of the State address.

When:
The following day, Thursday, Jan. 28.

Where:
Virtually or by phone.

Brief:
Stamas will be available the following day for comments on state issues mentioned by the governor in the address.

Please contact Stamas’ office prior to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 27 to schedule an interview time with the senator. Stamas’ office may be reached by phone at 1-517-373-7946 or by email at [email protected].

For those contacting the office after hours and who would like comments from Stamas, please leave a phone number for the senator to call.

Sen. Jim Stamas announces staff changes

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas on Thursday announced several staff changes for the 101st Legislature.

New roles and additions to Stamas’ staff include Patty Hertrich as chief of staff, Brian Shoaf as senior budget advisor, and Bryce Webster as legislative director.

Cherryl Khoury is continuing in her role as scheduler and constituent relations director and Stacey Gomoll is continuing as Stamas’ office assistant and constituent aide.

“I am proud to have Patty and Bryce join our team as we continue to tackle the tough issues affecting the people of Michigan and the 36th Senate District every day,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “Brian has been with me from my start in the Legislature, and I am happy to see him take on a new role focusing on meeting our budget challenges. I also want to thank Cherryl and Stacey for continuing to help us provide the best constituent services possible.”

Hertrich most recently served as chief of staff for Senate Majority Floor Leader Peter MacGregor and previously worked for Reps. Joe Haveman and Chuck Moss when they chaired the House Appropriations Committee.

Shoaf is currently Stamas’ chief of staff and previously worked for Stamas in the House, former Rep. John Moolenaar and former Sen. Bill Schuette.

Webster previously worked for former Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, Americans For Prosperity, and Reps. Lynn Afendoulis and Ken Borton.

Residents can contact Stamas’ office toll-free at 1-855-347-8036 or via email at [email protected]. Residents may also visit Stamas’ Senate website at www.SenatorJimStamas.com or send a letter via U.S. Mail. The mailing address is Senator Jim Stamas, P. O. Box 30036, Lansing, MI 48909.

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Stamas: Relief available for displaced workers and struggling businesses

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Stamas announced on Friday that struggling workers can now apply for support grants up to $1,650 and businesses facing financial ruin as a result of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s repeated shutdowns can apply for assistance starting on Jan. 19.

“The governor’s ongoing economic shutdowns have taken livelihoods from thousands of Michigan workers and put many of our local businesses in danger of permanent closure,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “As we were putting together the COVID-19 relief funding package last month, I made sure that it included much-needed relief for workers and job providers. Thankfully, the governor didn’t veto the funding for these two critical assistance programs.

“Although the grants are not awarded on a ‘first come, first served’ basis, the application periods are short, so I encourage those in need to apply as soon as possible.”

Included in Senate Bill 748 was funding for Employee Assistance Grants to support employees affected by the DHHS shutdown order that took effect on Nov. 18. The bill also featured funding to implement the Michigan Small Business Survival Grant Program to support the needs of affected businesses.

Eligible workers can apply at www.mrlaef.org/money for grants from Jan. 15 until 5 p.m. on Jan. 25. Workers are eligible if they work in affected industries, including — but not limited to — restaurants, bars, hotels, bowling allies and movie theaters.

Starting at 9 a.m. on Jan. 19, businesses can visit www.michiganbusiness.org/survival to apply for survival grants. The application period closes at noon on Friday, Jan. 22.

The business survival program will provide $55 million to 15 local economic development organizations, which will then disseminate the grants to businesses. Businesses that have been fully closed since Nov. 18, 2020 may be eligible for up to $20,000 in grants, while those that have been partially closed or are otherwise open may apply for grants up to $15,000.

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Stamas comments on state revenue and economic outlook

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas, R-Midland, issued the following statement after state fiscal and economic leaders made their economic and state tax revenue projections during Friday’s annual January Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference:

“After a year of unimaginable challenges, we must continue to be wise and guarded with state spending and ensure our fiscal plans are crafted with the future in mind.

“As a result of smart state budgeting decisions and significant federal stimulus funding over the past year, we were able to carry forward one-time funds into this year. The result is a balance sheet that shows available funds, but we must be cognizant of the fact that this money is not a recurring source of income.

“The pandemic is having a disparate economic impact on Michigan families. The rosy picture we see today at the state level is not an accurate depiction of what is happening in our homes around kitchen tables and in local businesses.

“Federal relief is not a sustainable revenue source and we still do not know what the future may bring for our state’s economy. My goal is to direct some available one-time money to address the impact of the pandemic on various areas of our state and create a fiscal plan that ensures Michigan is as prepared as we can be for the future.”

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Stamas: Senate should reject governor’s appointments until state has reopened

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas on Wednesday proposed stopping appointments from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer until her administration has ended the shutdowns and reopened the state.

“The governor is continuing punitive lockdowns and jeopardizing lives and livelihoods — while state government has largely been unaffected,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “People have suggested that the governor and her department heads not get paid until they allow restaurants and other family businesses to reopen and their workers to earn their paychecks. However, since we are constitutionally restricted from doing that, I am calling on Chairman Nesbitt to reject appointments by the governor until our economy is safely reopened.”

Appointments by the governor to numerous state boards that are subject to advice and consent of the Senate are currently sent to the Senate Advice and Consent Committee for consideration. Sen. Aric Nesbitt, R-Lawton, chairs the committee.

“Michigan is one of only a handful of states still prohibiting indoor dining but — unlike other states with closed restaurants — Michigan doesn’t have plans or metrics in place to set a path for reopening,” Stamas said. “As long as the governor rejects the importance of thousands of restaurants and small businesses she continues to shut down, then we should reject her appointments.

“My goal with this proposal is to bring the governor to the table on COVID-19 issues and understand that the Legislature plays an important role in our representative government.”

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