LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed at least $2.5 billion in COVID-19 relief spending Tuesday while vetoing $650 million after Michigan Republicans did not negotiate with her and tied other aid to legislation that would have curbed her administration’s authority to order pandemic restrictions.
It’s the latest move in a long-running dispute between the GOP-led Legislature and the Democratic governor over her pandemic response. As expected, Whitmer vetoed a bill that would have ceded the state health department’s power to close schools and prohibit sports to local health departments, allowing them to act only if certain metrics were met.READ MORE: Gov. Whitmer, Lt. Gov. Gilchrist, SOS Benson React To Derek Chauvin Guilty Verdict
Republicans had linked about $840 million in federal K-12 funding to the measure. The fate of that was not immediately clear because the governor’s office and the attorney general were conducting a legal review. Whitmer vetoed $87 million in proposed federal funding for private schools and $10 million in federal dollars for parents whose children enroll in summer school until a deal is reached.
She also nixed $405 million in state-funded grants to businesses and a $150 million deposit into the state’s unemployment fund.
Budget director Dave Massaron told The Associated Press that the administration wants to give additional aid to pandemic-damaged businesses but that the GOP’s proposed property tax relief program was poorly written.READ MORE: Michigan Reports 5,259 New COVID-19 Cases, 85 Deaths Tuesday
Whitmer said the legislation left more than $2 billion in federal money unallocated.
“As Michigan goes all-out to finally beat back this awful pandemic and turn the page to recovery, we need every last dollar to work for us before the Legislature takes its spring break,” she wrote to lawmakers. “I look forward to teaming up to make that happen, and that’s why I’ve asked my budget director to convene a meeting to start negotiations as soon as possible.”
She did OK funding, however, for vaccine distribution, testing, rental assistance and a 15% boost in food assistance benefits. A $2 hourly wage hike for direct care workers, which expired Feb. 28, will rise to $2.25 and be extended through September.MORE NEWS: Police Seek Driver Who Hit, Killed Black Bear
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