Funding plan provides resources needed to protect lives and livelihoods during pandemic
Unemployment reform offers new hope for those facing domestic violence
State Rep. Julie Calley today voted in favor of funding to help Michigan distribute COVID-19 vaccine and boost testing while helping those whose livelihoods have been disrupted by the virus and economic shutdowns.
Calley, of Portland, helped lead efforts as the House approved a $465 million overall plan that also temporarily extends unemployment benefits while supporting the restaurant industry, small businesses and the families who depend on them.
“Hope is on the horizon with the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, but we’re not out of the woods yet,” Calley said. “This funding will help ensure the vaccine is distributed quickly and efficiently, provide financial support to businesses in our communities that so desperately need it, and temporarily extend unemployment benefits for people whose lives and livelihoods have been disrupted by this virus through no fault of their own.”
Highlights of the Senate Bill 748 include:
Vaccine distribution and support for health care workers. The measure includes more than $50 million to support vaccine distribution efforts, and $22.5 million to boost virus testing efforts – with a special focus on nursing homes. Another $42 million will support temporary staffing needs and wage increases for direct care workers who are the front lines of the COVID-19 fight.
Unemployment benefits and additional help. The measure includes $220 million to temporarily extend unemployment benefits for those who have been forced out of work by the governor’s most recent shutdown orders. In addition, $45 million would be set aside for an employee assistance fund providing grants of up to $1,650 to replace lost wages for those employed by a business impacted by the current orders.
Restaurant and small business relief. The measure adds to grant programs for small businesses whose operations have been shut down or restricted by the governor’s latest orders. Calley said the small business survival program – supported by $55 million in this measure alone – could provide a support for many job providers and families on the brink of economic collapse. However, she stressed that the best gateway to recovery would be to allow businesses to safely reopen.
Calley also supported Senate Bill 604, which temporarily extends relaxed unemployment eligibility provisions until March 31 and continues to ensure job providers are not penalized for high rates of unemployment caused by the pandemic and the emergency health orders that have shut down many businesses. It also offers new hope to people suffering from domestic abuse who must leave their jobs to get away from threatening situations by allowing them to gain access to unemployment benefits through March 31.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has made life even harder than normal for the most vulnerable people in our communities,” Calley said. “Already stressful situations have been compounded by the health crisis and job loss as more and more businesses close their doors. Approving this plan will give people who feel like they’re stuck in violent homes the assurance that they will be eligible for unemployment benefits if they have to leave their job to escape.”
Calley said the proposals build on the Legislature’s commitment to fight COVID-19 and its repercussions – which includes approving more than $3 billion earlier this year from state budgets, plus allocation of federal unemployment funding to surpass $6 billion overall.
Senate Bills 748 and 604 will soon be headed to Gov. Whitmer for her consideration.