Sen. Victory supports COVID-19 relief bills

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Roger Victory on Thursday voted for nearly $2 billion in COVID-19 relief funding to protect people from the virus and help Michigan students safely return to school.

“We owe it to the hardworking folks of Michigan to put this federal COVID-19 funding to effective use where it’s needed most, which is what these measures will do,” said Victory, R-Hudsonville. “These bills invest in getting the vaccines out to the people — starting with our most vulnerable residents — and increasing testing, supporting health care workers on the front lines, and helping ensure our students get the education they need to succeed.

“We’re also ensuring we effectively and responsibly use these federal dollars, which is why we are investing nearly $2 billion now to meet our immediate needs while we set aside additional resources to meet our future challenges. As we work on additional support for struggling small businesses and those who are out of work, I hope we’ll have more engagement by the governor on this critical issue.”

Senate Bill 114 includes funding to meet the goals of ensuring healthier families and communities, such as:

  • $110 million in additional support for vaccine distribution. $36.7 million is dedicated to improving the governor’s poor vaccine rollout. The rest of the funds will be held in reserve until vaccine doses are available and the current distribution formula has been improved.
  • $150 million to increase pay for direct care workers on the front lines of fighting the virus in hospitals and nursing homes.
  • $185 million for COVID-19 testing, including $75 million to increase virus testing for students, teachers and staff in order to help in-person learning resume statewide as soon as possible. The funding also includes $25 million for nursing home testing.
  • $283 million in emergency rental assistance to ensure Michiganders struggling financially due to the pandemic and Gov. Whitmer’s orders can remain in their homes.

SB 29 includes $1.2 billion to help build a healthier future and includes:

  • A minimum of $450 per pupil to tackle learning loss associated with school closures.
  • $179 million to support summer school to help students catch up.
  • $5.9 million to reimburse parents for costs associated with summer school.
  • $20 million for student mental health services.
  • $11.7 million for benchmark assessments in reading and math.
  • $87 million in federal Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) grants for nonpublic schools.

The Senate is continuing to work on House Bill 4047, which includes over $590 million in funding to help create a healthier economy, including funding to assist workers and businesses facing financial ruin due to the governor’s shutdown orders, repay the state’s Unemployment Trust Fund for fraudulent benefits paid out by the Unemployment Insurance Agency, help struggling businesses with unemployment taxes, and reimburse Michigan businesses that were charged licensing and inspection fees by the state even when their businesses were closed through no fault of their own.

SBs 29 and 114 have been sent to the House of Representatives. HB 4047 has been reported by the Senate Appropriations Committee and sent to the full Senate for consideration.

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