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Lawmakers OK $55B budget bills; $7.5B in virus relief left

Michigan Capitol
Posted at 9:39 AM, Sep 23, 2021

(AP) — Michigan lawmakers who finished passing the state budget Wednesday will next turn to allocating an unprecedented amount of federal COVID-19 rescue funding — money that largely is flexible and can be spent however the state decides.

For months, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has been proposing ways to allot $6.5 billion in discretionary funds approved by Congress and President Joe Biden. About $5.7 billion remains after the budget deal and the enactment of K-12 and supplemental spending bills in July.

In recent talks, legislators also left unspent $1.8 billion in nondiscretionary federal coronavirus aid and $3 billion in state revenues, according to the state budget office.

“I’m looking forward to additional infrastructure, education and water packages that we will be able to put together over the coming months,” House Democratic Leader Donna Lasinski told reporters after the House passed $55 billion in spending on 99-6 and 97-8 votes.

Most recently, the governor proposed spending billions of the federal pandemic funding to boost the business climate and to expand health care and infrastructure, including to bolster access to mental health services, replace state psychiatric hospitals and build a new public health lab.