LANSING, Mich. – A Michigan senator is calling for nonessential state workers to be laid off due to concerns about the budget during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas (R-Midland) said Monday that he’s concerned about the pandemic’s impact on the state budget. He said the public health emergency, along with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “excessively restrictive” stay-home order will have negative consequences for the budget.
The Michigan Department of Treasury has estimated the affect on the current 2020 state budget will be between $1 billion and $3 billion, with another $1 billion to $4 billion hole in next year’s budget.
“We are facing a serious financial challenge, and we need to consider all options to adjust our spending -- such as cuts to popular programs and laying off nonessential state employees, including those in the Legislature,” Stamas said. “The state is doing everything it can to address the global COVID-19 pandemic, but we also must soon make the hard decisions to address its tremendous impact to our economy and state budget. The longer we wait to act, the deeper the cuts will need to be.
“I encourage the governor to deploy nonessential state employees to assist with unemployment claims instead of hiring more people and lay off any nonessential workers who cannot help people file unemployment claims.”
The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency announced the hiring of hundreds of workers to handle the record number of claims filed during the COVID-19 emergency.
Earlier this month, Whitmer issued executive directives freezing hiring in state government and stopping discretionary state spending.
The fiscal year 2020 budget started Oct. 1, 2019. The Legislature is now required to send the governor the 2021 budget by July 1. The 2021 budget begins Oct. 1.