COVID Relief Delay at State Capitol Hurting Michigan Schools, Vaccine Efforts

Back-to-school planning, vaccine distribution, COVID testing and tracing, food assistance and rental assistance are all in limbo while lawmakers argue.

Michigan state capitol building

Michigan State Capitol building in Lansing, MI in January, 2018.

More than $5 billion in federal money for COVID relief for Michigan is in limbo as lawmakers at the state Capitol fight over how to spend it. That money is meant for schools, vaccine distribution efforts, housing assistance and more.

MichMash hosts Cheyna Roth and Jake Neher talk with Craig Mauger of the Detroit News about what is causing the delay and why it matters.

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“People should be concerned about the delay, because of what’s at stake here,” says Mauger. “And what’s at stake here is $2 billion in funding for schools. This is money that could help get schools more schools back to in-person instruction quicker and help them prepare for the next school year.”

“They should also be concerned because this would fund money for vaccine distribution. This would fund testing and tracing for coronavirus cases, food assistance, rental assistance. All of these programs are tied up into this large supplemental spending legislation that’s caught in a partisan fight in Lansing right now.”

“They want to continue to be able to have say over what goes on with these dollars into the future. So their leverage will continue, essentially.” — Craig Mauger, Detroit News

Republican leaders in the state House and Senate also don’t want to spend all of the $5 billion now, as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has proposed. They are holding back some of that money, Mauger says, because they say they want more oversight over how the money is spent.

“The House’s proposal is $3 billion. The Senate’s proposal is $2 billion,” he says. “So you can see the amount of money the Legislature wants to hold back. And they want to continue to be able to have say over what goes on with these dollars into the future. So their leverage will continue, essentially.”

More from MichMash:
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Despite Olive Branch from Whitmer, GOP Showing No Interest in Cooperation in 2021
Michigan GOP at a Crossroads

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  • Cheyna Roth
    Cheyna has interned with Michigan Radio and freelanced for WKAR public radio in Lansing. She's also done some online freelancing and worked on documentary films.
  • Jake Neher
    Jake Neher is senior producer for Detroit Today and host of MichMash for 101.9 WDET. He previously reported on the Michigan Legislature for the Michigan Public Radio Network.