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Whitmer says governors asked White House for money to avert COVID-linked deficits

gretchen whitmer sitting at table
State of Michigan

Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she was on a conference call Monday with other governors and Vice President Mike Pence.

The call was to help coordinate state and federal responses to the COVID-19 crisis.

Whitmer says many of the governors asked the White House to allow states a great deal of flexibility in deciding how to use relief funding.

“Every one of us is confronting some real strain on our budgets to put it lightly. And so, acknowledging that this strain is all caused by COVID-19, it’s important that we have the ability to determine the best use of those dollars.”

A forecast from the University of Michigan says combined deficits in Michigan’s General Fund and School Aid Fund could add up to $2.6 billion dollars this year and could be $3.2 billion dollars next year.

Whitmer says states also asked for more swabs and chemical kits to perform more tests to determine whether it’s safe to re-open the economy.

“Robust testing is essential to have confidence about our strategies for safely reducing risk and re-engaging sectors of our economy.”

The governor says the worst-case scenario would be a heavy resurgence of new infections once people are allowed to travel freely and return to work.

Whitmer says she sees some promising ideas in the Republican plans that could be part of a strategy for re-starting more Michigan businesses. And the governor says she would consider using some of those ideas in a new executive order.

“But we are going through a rigorous process using the best data, listening to the best medical minds, and really trying to make sure that the course that we chart will keep people safe and will preclude us from having a second wave.”

The governor says a resurgence of the virus would be catastrophic and could force more closures. Whitmer says she hopes to reveal details of a re-opening plan later this week.

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Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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