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Whitmer expected to discuss budget deal to patch shortfall, COVID-19 update and schools

Michigan’s budget is strong enough, but the state still needs federal aid, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Tuesday while providing an update on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As coronavirus disease 2019 cases continued to increase in Michigan, Whitmer paused further business and venue reopenings. Closures of public places, from bars to schools, for weeks on end was a major factor in the state’s revenue losses, forcing a number of budget cuts.
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Michigan’s budget is strong enough, but the state still needs federal aid, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Tuesday while providing an update on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As coronavirus disease 2019 cases continued to increase in Michigan, Whitmer paused further business and venue reopenings.

Closures of public places, from bars to schools, for weeks on end was a major factor in the state’s revenue losses, forcing a number of budget cuts. On Monday evening, the Democratic governor and GOP legislative leaders struck a $2.2 billion budget deal to prevent slashing school budgets after the state’s bottom line took the hit.

The governor also discussed the state’s COVID-19 status further, as well as an executive order to rename the state-owned Lewis Cass Building in downtown Lansing, a plan to return students to the classroom in the fall, and policies to reform policing in Michigan.

State budget plan

The bipartisan budget deal will use most of the state’s CARES Act money — coronavirus relief aid from the federal government — to help offset school and local budget cuts. The state will also dip into the rainy day fund to help with the supplemental spending.

K-12 schools are poised to get $512 million in federal money, universities and community colleges will get $200 million and $150 million will go to local governments. Teachers willing to go back to school in the fall and work, despite the public health risk, will get hazard pay. Michigan will spend $53 million to help fund that boost.

That combination will offset a $256 million cut in school cuts, a $200 million reduction to universities and colleges and $97 million cut to local governments.

“In this time of crisis, it is our responsibility to come together and build a budget that reflects a bipartisan commitment to the things we value most as Michiganders,” Whitmer, House Speaker Lee Chatfield and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey said Monday, June 29, in a joint statement. “Our collective priority is a healthy state and a healthy economy. We are committed to working together to address the remaining shortfalls in next year’s budget and we are looking to our partners in Congress for support to help maintain the essential services relied upon by our families and small businesses.”

Details have yet to be released for spending cuts, Whitmer, Chatfield and Shirkey said the state will save $490 million through a hiring and discretionary spending freeze, layoffs and “other identified savings” in state government.

The budget deal reached Monday does not include what’s expected to be an even larger budget deficit for the 2021 fiscal year. Lawmakers had a deadline of July 1 to present a plan to Whitmer, a change the GOP-controlled Legislature implemented last year. That deadline is no longer in place.

Return to school plan

Whitmer created a return to learning task force that’s expected to release a road map to education amid COVID-19 June 30. Republican legislators unveiled their own education plan to get kids back into a learning routine for the fall as well, that gave districts the ability to make their own choices about when kids come back to school, how often they are in-person learning, and other decisions.

Whitmer’s news conference is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. It will be livestreamed as well as broadcast on television.

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Follow Political Reporter Mikenzie Frost on Twitter and Facebook. Send tips to mbfrost@sbgtv.com.

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