Funding will help struggling job providers, get kids back in school
State Rep. David Martin of Davison 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.
“This plan will bring much needed relief directly to the areas where it is needed most,” Martin said during a speech on the House floor in support of the plan. “It prioritizes support for small job providers in our community who have been hit hard by the pandemic rather than corporate welfare and the governor’s pet projects. It focuses on improving the rollout of the vaccine for the many people who are willing to receive the shot. And, most importantly, it provides the funding needed to get kids back in school.”
Highlights of the House plan include:
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.
“I’ve heard from many moms, dads and even some students themselves about the struggles they’re facing because of Michigan’s response to the pandemic,” Martin said. “Parents and our local school districts know what is best for their families, and they’re sounding the alarm because they’re concerned. They see their kids falling behind in school. They see their kids struggling with stress, anxiety and depression because they haven’t been able to cope the ways they normally do – decompressing with friends between classes, in the gym, or on the athletic field. They’re calling for change. It is our duty to listen.”
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.
Helping families: Families have been pushed to the brink by the governor’s COVID restrictions, which continue to be among the harshest in the nation. 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.
Martin said the House plan does not include money for items the governor proposed – such as Capitol metal detectors and corporate giveaways for new job creation – because those issues aren’t related to COVID.
State Rep. David Martin this week took action to put a check on the actions of the Legislature during the “lame duck” session – a first and important step in restoring the public’s trust in their state government.
Rep. Martin talks about his House Resolution calling on the National Guard Bureau to immediately end the food contract for the 1,000 Michigan National Guard service members currently deployed to Washington, D.C., and provide a per diem food allowance backdated to the start of mobilization.