State Rep. Julie Calley today voted in favor of a comprehensive plan to protect public health and help Michigan bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Calley, of Portland, said the plan receiving final legislative approval helps struggling families and job providers, gets students back in classrooms and protects people from the virus with more resources for vaccination and testing.
“We’re now a year into this pandemic, and many businesses and schools in our communities are still nowhere close to resuming regular operations,” Calley said. “The families who depend on these businesses to make a living need more help. Schools need resources to get kids back into classrooms and help struggling students catch up on learning they’ve lost over the last year. We need resources to get shots into the arms of people who are waiting to get a vaccine, so we can all get back to our normal lives more quickly. All of that – and more – is addressed in our funding plan.”
Highlights of the estimated $4.25 billion plan including state and federal resources:
Helping families: The plan provides $600 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: The plan provides additional funding for districts committing to restore in-person instruction by March 22 – the equivalent of about $450 per student — and funds benchmark assessments to help determine where students stand after this tumultuous year. A voluntary K-8 summer school program and a credit recovery program for high school students would be funded with $135 million. The summer school plan additionally provides $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.
Helping job providers: The plan supports businesses restricted by the governor’s COVID orders with a $426 million grant program, including help with reimbursement of liquor, health inspection and other 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: The plan immediately provides more support for vaccines and COVID testing, in addition to the funds that were previously approved by the Legislature in December. Direct care workers on the front lines of fighting the virus would receive an additional $2.25 per hour through September.
The plan does not include money for some items the governor proposed – such as corporate giveaways for new job creation – because those issues aren’t related to COVID. The comprehensive plan approved by the Legislature also keeps some federal resources in reserve to ensure they are available when needed and not wasted.
The plan also provides an opportunity for the governor to allow local health departments to make their own science-based decisions about whether their local schools should be open in the future – rather than leaving the entire state vulnerable to the governor’s unilateral decisions. The plan also fights to give the people of Michigan – through their elected representatives in the Legislature – a voice in how long emergency health orders last beyond their original 28-day length.
“There’s no doubt that COVID has caused hardships for people in our state – but the governor’s unilateral restricts have made life even harder for many,” Calley said. “Our plan would help shift away from the one-size-fits-all approach and allow local health experts to have more say in what actions are best for their communities.”
House Bills 4047-49 are expected to soon advance to the governor for her consideration.
Rep. Calley talks about House passage this week of a bipartisan package of legislation aimed at making health care in Michigan more accessible and affordable. She says the plan will diminish the roles of Pharmaceutical Benefit Managers, whom she describes middlemen, while also ending requirements that pharmacists not inform consumers about lower-priced options,