House approves $465 million supplemental budget plan
State Rep. Rodney Wakeman, of Saginaw Township, today voted in favor of funding to help Michigan distribute the COVID-19 vaccine and boost testing while helping those whose livelihoods have been disrupted by the virus and economic shutdowns.
The House overwhelmingly approved a $465 million overall plan that also temporarily extends unemployment benefits while supporting the restaurant industry, small businesses and the families who depend on them.
“This has been a challenging year for everyone,” Wakeman said. “Saginaw County residents have been put out of work and their ability to make a living compromised through no fault of their own by the governor’s executive orders and recent health directives. I fought hard to secure an additional $465 million to bolster vaccine distribution efforts, increase testing capabilities and provide much-needed relief for Saginaw County families and small businesses in a time they need it most.”
Highlights of the measure include:
- Unemployment benefits and additional help. The measure includes $220 million to temporarily extend unemployment benefits for those who have been forced out of work by the governor’s most recent shutdown orders. Benefits will be extended by six weeks through March, meaning laid-off workers are temporarily eligible for up to 26 weeks of benefits. Employers are held harmless for the change. In addition, $45 million would be set aside for an employee assistance fund providing grants of up to $1,650 to replace lost wages for those employed by a business impacted by the current orders.
- Restaurant and small business relief. The measure adds to grant programs for small businesses whose operations have been shut down or restricted by the governor’s latest orders. Wakeman said the small business survival program – supported by $55 million in this measure alone – could provide a lifeline for many Saginaw County job providers and families on the brink of economic collapse.
- Vaccine distribution and support for health care workers. The measure includes more than $50 million to support vaccine distribution efforts, and $22.5 million to boost virus testing efforts – with a special focus on nursing homes. Another $42 million will support temporary staffing needs and wage increases for direct care workers who are the front lines of the COVID-19 fight.
- Delta College construction project authorization. Wakeman helped lead House efforts to secure the construction authorization approval for Delta College’s renovation project. The project will update electronic media and broadcast equipment, reconfigure classroom and office space and make other structural updates to campus facilities.
This measure builds on the Legislature’s commitment to fight COVID-19 and its repercussions – which includes approving more than $3 billion earlier this year from state budgets, plus allocation of federal unemployment funding to surpass $6 billion overall.
Senate Bill 748 is now headed to Gov. Whitmer for her consideration.
State Rep. Rodney Wakeman’s plan bringing clarity and uniformity to the construction industry regarding the installation and maintenance of low-voltage electric fences was recently signed into Michigan law by the governor.
“It was imperative that the Legislature immediately take up certain coronavirus-related measures previously included in executive orders that were nullified due to the Supreme Court ruling,” Wakeman said. “Continuation of unemployment benefits is one of many pieces we had to put back in place before displaced workers lose the help they have already been receiving.”