State Rep. Bob Bezotte today expressed skepticism about the governor’s newfound interest in rural Michigan families after she willfully ignored their plight for the last three years.
On Tuesday, Gov. Whitmer announced the creation of a new Office of Rural Development within the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), touting that she is “delivering on her promise” to support rural communities.
But Bezotte pointed to several examples where the governor neglected the needs of rural Michigan.
“Access to reliable health care is a problem that disproportionately affects rural areas of our state,” Bezotte said. “In 2020, Gov. Whitmer vetoed Senate Bill 1185 that would have given additional liability protections for health care workers and facilities during a state of emergency. She even banned all ‘elective’ medical procedures for the first several months of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has now caused some illnesses to become more serious because they went untreated for too long. This is clearly an election-year stunt.”
“During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, under Gov. Whitmer’s administration, hospitals would release elderly COVID-19 positive patients back to their nursing homes. In doing so, COVID-19 was spread throughout long-term care facilities all over the state. Gov. Whitmer endangered the lives of so many with this decision.”
Bezotte also pointed to the governor’s veto of a bipartisan plan to expand access to broadband internet in rural Michigan communities. House Bill 4210 and Senate Bill 46 would have authorized tax exemptions for new broadband equipment that increases internet service in rural and underserved areas. Both bills passed the Legislature with bipartisan support, only to be vetoed by the governor last spring.
The governor has also repeatedly favored urban areas of the state over rural communities in her budget proposals. In her first year in office, the governor vetoed funding for a program sheriff’s departments rely on to hire patrols for secondary roads and funding for rural hospitals in her attempt to try and force Michigan residents to accept a 45-cent per gallon gas tax increase.
Gov. Whitmer has done a tremendous amount of harm to the small businesses that help rural communities thrive – first shutting them down with her executive orders and then repeatedly vetoing funding and policy reforms put forth by legislators fighting to help them stay afloat. Her vetoes included a widely supported plan to eliminate a tax disadvantage faced by small local businesses, a tax exemption for personal protective equipment and other supplies purchased by businesses to reduce the spread of COVID-19, and legislation that would have ended Michigan’s participation in the federal government’s bonus unemployment payment program that exacerbated the worker shortage.
“To truly help rural Michigan families, the governor has a long way to go,” Bezotte said. “The governor has a weak track record in rural communities. Her policy directives and budget priorities have continuously put those who live in rural areas of our state in harm’s way.”
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