Michigan Gov. Whitmer signs $106M relief bill, extends COVID-19 unemployment benefits through March

Whitmer vetoes $220 million for Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund

$106 million COVID relief bill aimed at helping Michigan businesses, workers

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed a $106 million relief bill and also extended COVID-19 unemployment benefits through March 2021.

READ: Timeline of how COVID trends have actually changed since Michigan issued, extended, revised order

Relief bill

The bipartisan relief bill includes $55 million to help small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19. Grants of up to $20,000 will be available to Michigan small businesses that need support this winter, the state announced.

The relief bill also includes $3.5 million for grants of up to $40,000 each for live music and entertainment venues, according to Whitmer.

In addition, $45 million is available in direct payments for workers who have been laid off or furloughed due to the virus, the state revealed.

“I proposed this stimulus plan to the legislature in November because I know how much our families, frontline workers, and small businesses need relief,” Whitmer said. “This bipartisan bill will provide families and businesses the support they need to stay afloat as we continue working to distribute the safe and effective vaccine and eliminate COVID-19 once and for all.”

Unemployment benefits

Whitmer said she also signed bipartisan Senate Bill 604, which extends unemployment benefits for Michiganders who have lost work because of COVID-19.

Those benefits have been extended from 20 to 26 weeks, the state announced. They are now available until the end of March 2021.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signs a bill extending COVID-19 unemployment benefits on Dec. 29, 2020. (WDIV)

“No Michigander should have to worry about how to put food on the table or pay their bills, especially during a global pandemic,” Whitmer said. “These bipartisan bills are an important step in providing immediate relief for working families, but there is more work to do. I urge the legislature to take further action to make this permanent. Forty states, including all of our neighbors, automatically provide at least 26 weeks of unemployment relief. Michiganders deserve better than a short-term extension that expires in March. It’s time to work together on a bipartisan, long-term solution for working families.”

Since March 15, the state has paid nearly $27 billion in benefits to nearly 2.3 million workers, according to the release.

Whitmer vetoes other items

When she signed the relief bill, Whitmer line item vetoed any items not subject to negotiated agreement.

Among those vetoed items was a proposed $220 million for the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, which is designed to help businesses fund benefits for laid off workers.

“General fund dollars must be used to fund essential services like vaccines and PPE, not to give tax breaks to big businesses,” the state said in a release.

According to the state, the Unemployment Insurance Agency has provided more than $900 million in tax breaks to businesses affected by COVID-19.

Whitmer wants the Legislature to pass a permanent extension of unemployment benefits and an increase in weekly benefits.

About the Authors:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.

Victor Williams joined Local 4 News in October of 2019 after working for WOIO in Cleveland, OH, WLOX News in Biloxi, MS, and WBBJ in Jackson, TN. Victor developed a love for journalism after realizing he was a great speaker and writer at an early age.