Funding will get kids back in school, help struggling job providers
State Rep. Ann Bollin today helped the House approve a comprehensive COVID-19 recovery plan to get kids back in classrooms, help struggling families and job providers, and improve the state’s flawed vaccine distribution program.
The $3.5 billion plan advances to the Senate for further consideration.
“We’re acting quickly to get much-needed relief into the hands of the people who need it most,” Bollin said. “This plan gets struggling students back into the classroom and gives moms and dads the opportunity to choose whether their kids participate in sports. It helps job providers who are struggling because of Michigan’s harshest-in-the-nation COVID restrictions, and it adds funding to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the vaccine rollout. This plan allows the Legislature to participate in on an ongoing basis. It takes full advantage of available federal dollars – keeping all Michigan dollars in Michigan.”
Highlights of the House plan include:
Helping families: Families have been pushed to the brink by the governor’s COVID restrictions. The plan provides $510 million in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program funding, while other investments support meals for seniors, mental health, and substance abuse prevention and treatment. Families also are eligible for rent and utility assistance, and a deposit into the unemployment benefits trust fund helps ensure those laid off because of COVID restrictions will continue to receive the benefits they’ve been promised.
Helping kids: Many students in Michigan haven’t seen the inside of a classroom in nearly a year. They’re not being allowed to participate in winter sports. The House plan provides $363 million statewide for districts committing to in-person instruction by Feb. 15, provides support through federal Title I dollars, and funds benchmark assessments to help determine where students stand after this tumultuous year. A voluntary K-8 summer school program would be funded with $135 million – plus $1,000 incentives for participating teachers, $250 incentives for participating staff, and up to $250 to help families cover associated costs such as transportation and tutoring. A high school credit recovery program would also be available.
Helping job providers: Restaurants and other small businesses – along with the workers who depend on them – are fighting for economic survival. The House plan supports businesses restricted by the governor’s COVID orders with a $415 million grant program, including reimbursement of liquor and health inspection fees. The package also includes support for property tax relief and help for afflicted job providers who pay into the unemployment benefits system.
Fighting the virus: Additional resources for vaccine distribution and COVID testing would be allocated quarterly as needed – rather than all at once – to allow more legislative review of the process and ensure funds aren’t squandered. The Legislature approved more than $50 million for vaccine distribution in December. This new plan provides an additional initial investment of $22 million for vaccine distribution, and $144 million for COVID testing. Other resources will be held in reserve for when they are needed.
Rep. Bollin, who served as Brighton Township clerk prior to her election to the House, says changes announced by the Secretary of State Tuesday are not enough to provide Michigan residents with the level of services they deserve.