Michigan House ties billions in COVID aid to giving power to counties

House approved $3.6 billion relief package, voted to withhold $2.1 billion from schools unless state authority is weakened

Michigan house ties billions in COVID aid to giving power to counties
Michigan house ties billions in COVID aid to giving power to counties

LANSINGThe return of high school sports announced Thursday is a part of a much larger political battle in Lansing.

The GOP Legislature is tying more than $3 billion in COVID relief to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer changing her coronavirus response considerably.

The Legislature passed a relief package Thursday that includes giving local school districts control over future school sports pauses and sets money aside for districts that institute all in-person instruction.

RELATED: Michigan GOP threatens to withhold billions in school funding over COVID precautions

“I am eager to find common ground with the Legislature so that we can get this done,” Whitmer said. “Because the people of our state are relying on us to use these resources that have been given to us.”

Whitmer is referencing the millions for vaccine distribution, half a billion for COVID testing and two billion for schools.

She admits her office is speaking with Republican Legislative leadership, negotiating to free the money and while last week she said she wasn’t interested in the approach, she seemed more receptive Thursday.

“I remain ready to work with anyone who wants to focus on these goals,” Whitmer said. “These are not partisan goals, these are Michigan goals.”

State Representative Andrea Schroeder said Whitmer’s sense of urgency belies the reality of the situation.

“Nothing is being withheld. Don’t forget the current federal dollars go through March. Nobody left any money on the table or anything like that. We need to use these tax dollars, they are our tax dollars,” Schroeder said. “We’re just going to have to see where her priorities lie.”

Local 4 has reached out to Whitmer’s office to see if the COVID package will be given her stamp of approval but as of the time of publishing, have not heard back.

House Democrats unsuccessfully pushed for approval of $5 billion-plus proposal that largely mirrors one proposed by the governor.

READ: 7 takeaways from Whitmer’s COVID update: Michigan sports, variant spread, metrics

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