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State officials call on federal government for more coronavirus relief aid

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Posted at 3:45 PM, Jul 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-28 16:01:49-04

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan officials called on the federal government to provide more coronavirus relief funding than is being offered in the most recently proposed bill from Senate Republicans.

State Budget Director Chris Kolb said that while Michigan was able to resolve its budget for fiscal year 2020 thanks to help from federal funds, it will struggle to close a $3 billion gap without more help.

“The proposal released yesterday by Leader Mitch McConnell is woefully lacking in many ways,” Kolb said. “There’s not a single new dollar in the McConnell package allocated to the needed economic relief that Michigan and the other 49 states need. Frankly, that’s pretty unbelievable.”

The state would likely need to cut services even if it continues with its current hiring and spending freezes. Things like schools, colleges and universities, local governments, housing, safety, and health care could all be impacted, Kolb said.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said U.S. Senate leader Mitch McConnell and the White House also want to move to a “complicated” new benefits system that would give state unemployment agencies even more work to do.

“That means families who are already struggling will struggle for longer waiting on the help that they need,” Whitmer said. “Our working families can’t go that long without this important economic lifeline.”

“I can tell you that the plan they put on the table does not accomplish the goal of helping states,” Whitmer said. “I implore everyone in Washington, D.C. to stop partisanship and get something done.”

The governor also denounced the idea that federal funding be tied to the reopening of schools instead of allowing their reopenings to be based on public health guidelines.

Sandy Baruah of the Detroit Regional Chamber emphasized the lasting damage a recession can have on the economy.

“This is not a political or a regional perspective,” he said. “This position that the pending CARES Act legislation must include aid to state and local governments is echoed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.”