LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Nearly $18 billion will be coming to Michigan through the recently passed American Rescue Plan.
The governor and state budget director talked Monday about their priorities for spending that money.
The administration has high hopes for spending part of the nearly $2 trillion plan passed by Democrats in the U.S. House and Senate last month.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wants to focus on health care and education. She wants to use some of the funds for economic and jobs development. The money will cover a lot of expenses associated with COVID-19 and go beyond that.
The governor believes that despite evidence to the contrary during this pandemic, she and the legislature can work together on this one-time spending.
“We’re coming out of an incredibly tough time. It doesn’t mean we’re going to agree on everything, but it is our job to find common ground on the big stuff and billions of dollars coming into our state to help our economy, to help our people, to ensure that our kids can get back on track with their education. This is the stuff that we’ve got to find common ground on,” Whitmer said.
“When it comes to creating opportunities for people to get skills so we’ve got the workforce employers are looking for, and that pays well enough so that you can make a good living — this is the stuff that we’ve got to find common ground on,” she continued.
The governor earlier in the day reiterated that while we are closer to returning to a more normal existence, she is still encouraging people to double down on COVID-19 precautions.
Whitmer on Friday urged Michiganders to refrain from eating indoors at restaurants, to pause in-person learning and stop youth sporting activities. She empathized that this was not a mandate, which is different from language used in the past year.
On Monday, Whitmer talked about the difference a year has made.
“Here’s where we are instead of a year ago where this was a novel virus that we didn’t even know that a mask was going to give us 97% protection. We had to take strong action to keep people safe. We now know a lot more about this. We now have PPE, we now have testing, we now have vaccines,” Whitmer said. “We each have enough information to do our part and that’s what we’re calling on people to do: To do your part. We know that we are at the end of, close to the end of this saga if we all do our part and that’s why we’re going to continue to call on people to do that and not go back to those same kind of protocols because we’re in a different moment.”
Whitmer’s comments come on the heels of being turned down by the White House to surge more vaccines into the state.
Over the weekend, the governor said in a national interview that she understood the administration had a plan they wanted to stick with. She warned that the uptick in cases in Michigan could be replicated elsewhere. She also said more vaccines need to go to hardest hit areas.