Slotkin Says Michigan Senate Needs To Spend COVID Funding
January 24, 2022
By Jon King / firstname.lastname@example.org
Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin told the Michigan State Senate to “get off your duff” when it comes to spending federal COVID funding that’s already been allocated.
Appearing Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press”, the 8th District Democrat was asked by Moderator Chuck Todd if further federal spending was needed to assist hospitals and schools that have been overwhelmed by the latest omicron surge, to which she noted that the COVID relief bill passed last March has $4 billion “sitting in the bank account of the State of Michigan”. To
Todd then asked if that funding should be used for meeting the staffing shortages in schools and hospitals.
“Yes. Yes. Hello?” said Slotkin. “Hello, Michigan state senate and state senates. Move. Get off your duff. Get that money out so that we can pay more for subs in our schools, so that we can get more folks, nurses, and doctors. I don't know that we need another package because the money we've spent hasn't been used already on the ground.”
It’s likely that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will address the unspent funds during her State of State address on Wednesday. A recent revenue estimating conference in Lansing determined that Michigan’s two main funds will take in more than $5.8 billion in revenues above projections from last spring, largely attributed to federal pandemic relief aid that has helped to boost incomes and consumer spending despite COVID-19.
About $1.8 billion is “pass-through” money earmarked for specific pandemic-response purposes. Roughly $5.3 billion, though, is discretionary, meaning the state has flexibility on using it.
There are also billions coming from the $1 trillion federal infrastructure law.
“We will take advantage of existing one-time resources already available to make targeted investments that will benefit our state for years to come,” House Appropriations Chair Thomas Albert, a Lowell Republican, said in a statement. “But we will not create ongoing costs that could be difficult to sustain within Michigan’s year-to-year state budget.”
Economists tempered the positive outlook by noting risks — including unknowns about the course of the two-year pandemic, stress on the global supply chain and worries over high inflation.
In Sunday's interview, Slotkin also said the Biden administration and Congressional Democrats need to focus on issues like lowering the cost of prescription drugs, keeping schools open, and bringing down the cost of living heading into the mid-term elections in November, and not try to address too many problems at once.
“People in general are kind of questioning whether government still works for them, and so we should be doing a couple of things really, really well … as opposed to saying, ‘We’re going to do everything,’ promising the world, and then not getting all of that done,” Slotkin said. “I think we’re in a crisis when it comes to people believing in government, and the best thing we can do is govern effectively."
Democrats have been hampered by internal fights within the party that have derailed two other two top goals: a $2 trillion social and environmental measure and voting rights legislation. Those failures have ratcheted up worries that Republicans will regain either one, or both, houses of Congress in November.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.