The Michigan state legislature passed two bills to appropriate $150 million in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
On March 17, the House unanimously passed House Bill 4729. The bill appropriated $50 million to the Health and Human Services Department, which requires the funds to be distributed to critical health care providers in order to expand the state’s response to the coronavirus. It also allocated $75 million to the Department of Technology, Management and Budget and those funds are authorized for public health emergencies and related economic responses to various departments.
On March 30, the Michigan Senate passed Senate Bill 151, which created and distributed an additional $15 million into the Coronavirus Response Fund along with $10 million to other various departments, totaling state funding for the coronavirus pandemic to $150 million.
In a joint statement, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and legislative leaders addressed the signing of the supplemental bills. The statement noted the funding will allow for the purchasing of medical supplies essential for Michigan to slow the spread of the virus.
“Today’s signing of two supplemental budget bills will provide new state funding of $150 million to bolster response efforts,” the statement reads. “To date, the state has already expended more than $130 million to secure more than 20 million masks, more than 2,000 ventilators, nearly 9 million ounces of hand sanitizer, more than 255,000 boxes of gloves, 2.4 million gowns, more than 2,000 beds, 210,000 testing supplies, 3,000 thermometers, 185,000 face shields, 22,000 cartons of disinfecting wipes, as well as other needed supplies.”
LSA junior Isabelle Bogojevic, communications chair for the policy group U-M Roosevelt Institute, said she appreciated Michigan’s localized efforts to the outbreak.
“In regards to that $2 trillion that was passed, we know that it's not being distributed to most college-age students and there’s a bunch of other shortcomings in that bill as well,” Bogojevic said. “While I think that the stimulus bill is going to be helpful for many … it seems to be a very short-sighted plan to me. So I think Gretchen Whitmer, like early on, did a good job of tackling this crisis. So I think that the state legislators’ action is just another way that the state of Michigan is responding.”
The Daily analyzed neighboring states’ plans to see how they stack up to Michigan’s.
The state of Michigan’s reaction to the coronavirus comes on the heels of Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, who has been applauded for his proactive efforts in combating COVID-19. On March 12, DeWine was the first governor to call for a statewide closure of public schools, even though Ohio had yet to suffer a major outbreak of COVID-19.
Both DeWine and the Ohio state legislature have worked together to enact House Bill 197 providing emergency relief to Ohioans during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill amends several codes to expand unemployment benefits for individuals out of work due to COVID-19, prohibit water shutoffs, move the state tax deadline from April 15 to July 15 and extend absentee voting for the Ohio primary to April 28.
In Indiana, the state legislature has not passed any relief for COVID-19. In an interview with TV station WXIN , state Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., said he is waiting to see how the $2-trillion federal relief package will impact the state before allocating more aid.
“I really do believe we need to let those three aid packages play out, then we can go back after that and see what needs to be done,” Banks said.
The state of Illinois has paired up with the nonprofit United Way of Illinois and the Alliance of Illinois Community Foundations to launch a statewide fundraising effort to support nonprofits. Other than the partnership, the new fund would be separate and independent from the state as they hope to fundraise for providing emergency food and basic supplies, interim housing and shelter, primary health care services and other essential needs.
While Gov. J.B. Pritzker has filed for a waiver to expand Medicaid coverage and announced new measures to help small businesses struggling financially, the Illinois legislature has not passed any laws allocating funding for the coronavirus pandemic.
All four states are under stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders.
Daily Staff Reporter Julia Fanzeres can be reached at email@example.com.