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Legislature sends $50 billion spending plan to Whitmer’s desk

The Michigan State Capitol
Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0
Michigan Capitol in Lansing

Lawmakers have voted to send a more than $50 billion spending plan to the governor’s desk. Both chambers of the Legislature voted Wednesday to approve budgets for both general government and higher education spending.

The Legislature’s approval came a week after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Republican leaders in the state legislature announced an agreement.

The deal sends a few billion dollars toward infrastructure projects. It also spends $1.5 billion of federal COVID-19 relief money on childcare assistance. Other highlights of the new budget include a $500 million investment in the state’s Rainy Day Fund and close to $415 million toward raises for direct care workers.

Next, lawmakers will have to decide how to spend an unprecedented amount of federal COVID-19 rescue funding.

Democratic state Representative Joe Tate says he expects the bipartisan spirit to last throughout talks on how to spend the remaining few billion dollars in federal money.

“It’s all common issues. You know, when we talk about water infrastructure, when we talk about health care for communities, we talk about jobs and how are we supporting our economy.”

Republican state Representative Timothy Beson says he would like it spent on one-time projects.

“That’s where we need to do it because in two years, we’re not going to have this federal money. So, if everybody keeps spending like we have money that we don’t have in two years, it puts us in a situation where we might not be in that same—being able to write a $70 billion budget.”

Though praising the agreement overall, House Democratic Leader Donna Lasinski says there are some items her caucus would like to see the governor veto.

“There are a few line items that infringe on a woman’s right to choose. We have requested that the governor look at those for a line item veto. There’s just a couple funding lines that I believe may attract her line item veto pen.”

Other language in the spending plan limits agencies and universities’ ability to impose mask mandates and COVID-19 vaccine requirements.

Democratic lawmakers have called the restrictions “unenforceable.”

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