By DAVID EGGERT, Associated Press
LANSING, Michigan (AP) – Michigan to make more children eligible for child care subsidies, equip state soldiers with body cameras, and make pandemic wage increases for home workers permanent nursing and other caregivers under the upcoming state budget, ready for initial approval Tuesday.
The $ 53 billion bipartisan spending plan, which includes billions of dollars in federal COVID-19 funding, will also increase payments for child care providers and allow them to award bonuses of $ 1,000 new or existing staff. The state savings account will increase by $ 500 million.
As part of the deal, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer agreed to a provision written by Republicans to prevent state and local governments from issuing coronavirus vaccine requirements that go beyond the plans outlined by President Joe Biden. He recently said the federal government would require injections for many healthcare workers and require employers with 100 or more employees to require them to get vaccinated or tested every week.
“We negotiated together in good faith,” the governor said at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac policy conference on Mackinac Island. âThis budget makes bold investments in Michigan families, in our communities and in our small businesses. “
The GOP-led legislature is expected to pass the plan this week so it can sign it before October 1, when the new fiscal year begins. The Senate unanimously approved one of the two bills on Tuesday, which also includes $ 2 billion in additional spending for this budget year. The $ 17 billion school aid budget was enacted in July.
Michigan will spend funds allocated to child care under the last two federal COVID-19 rescue laws. Much of it will help stabilize facilities affected by the pandemic. Other funds will extend eligibility for child care grants to 185% of the federal poverty level instead of 150% for two years, increase payments to providers who serve low-income children, and waive out-of-pocket expenses families.
Of the approximately 416,000 children eligible for payment assistance through the state care and development program, approximately 25,000 receive subsidized care. The state estimates that the expansion will qualify an additional 105,000 children, with approximately 6,000 new beneficiaries enrolling.
As businesses emerge from the pandemic, they need workers, state budget director Dave Massaron said.
âChild care is an important part of it, especially when you look at the data on working mothers. This investment is something we are all incredibly proud of, âhe said.
Infrastructure is another priority.
Michigan will spend about $ 200 million to replace or repair local bridges. Almost $ 20 million will be set aside to repair or remove dams following the catastrophic flooding in the Midland region in 2020. An additional $ 10 million will be used to replace lead pipes at Benton Harbor, where drinking water has exceeded federal limits for metal toxicants that can disrupt children’s brain development.
The budget includes $ 460 million to fund an hourly wage increase of $ 2.35 for “direct care” workers, such as home helpers. They have been paid $ 2 or $ 2.25 more per hour since last year due to the pandemic. The plan will cover the salary with core funding, a signal that the hike will be permanent for years to come.
“We approve a sustainable budget that supports vital services today and significantly reduces the potential need for cuts if the economy worsens tomorrow,” said the House Appropriations Committee Thomas Albert, a Republican from Lowell who pointed to a filing $ 150 million in the depleted unemployment benefit fund. and spending on tourism, workforce development and infrastructure.
The budget also addresses police transparency by equipping all enlisted state police personnel with body cameras. About 200 soldiers, road transport agents and state property security officials currently have them because their work may not be captured by on-board cameras. But many don’t.
The agency will purchase 1,200 cameras for all soldiers and sergeants assigned to the patrol in uniform.
Universities and community colleges will receive a small one-time funding increase of 1% next fiscal year as well as a one-time increase of 4% this year to partially offset a past reduction linked to the pandemic.
Several universities, including Michigan and the state of Michigan, have COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Republicans-backed budget language prohibits state and municipalities from requiring coronavirus vaccinations “except as provided by federal law or as a condition of receiving federal Medicare or Medicaid funding.”
Whitmer, who has repeatedly said she does not plan to impose the vaccine, generally agrees with the restrictions. But she could declare the language inapplicable to public universities because they are independent schools.
The spending legislation states that if government officials establish a vaccination policy due to the pending federal requirement, they must offer exemptions if a doctor certifies that it is harming someone’s health or is not. not appropriate. Those who cite religious beliefs or some other “constant objection to vaccination” should also be granted waivers.
The governor is expected to remove a provision written by the GOP that would prohibit the state health director or local officials from requiring masks for children. At least 16 of 83 counties, many of the most populous, are enforcing masking inside schools.
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