Stamas calls for layoffs of nonessential state employees due to budget impact of COVID-19 emergency

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas on Monday said he’s extremely worried about the state’s budget as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency and the excessively restrictive “Stay Home, Stay Safe” lockdown order extended by Gov. Whitmer.

The Michigan Department of Treasury has estimated the impact on the current 2020 state budget will be between $1 billion and $3 billion, with another $1 billion to $4 billion hole in next year’s budget.

“We are facing a serious financial challenge, and we need to consider all options to adjust our spending — such as cuts to popular programs and laying off nonessential state employees, including those in the Legislature,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “The state is doing everything it can to address the global COVID-19 pandemic, but we also must soon make the hard decisions to address its tremendous impact to our economy and state budget. The longer we wait to act, the deeper the cuts will need to be.

“I encourage the governor to deploy nonessential state employees to assist with unemployment claims instead of hiring more people and layoff any nonessential workers who cannot help people file unemployment claims.”

The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency announced it is hiring hundreds of workers to handle the record number of claims filed during the COVID-19 emergency.

Earlier this month, Gov. Whitmer issued executive directives freezing hiring in state government and stopping discretionary state spending.

The fiscal year 2020 budget started on Oct. 1, 2019. The Legislature is now required to send the governor the FY 2021 budget by July 1. The FY 2021 budget begins on Oct. 1 of this year.