Whitmer signs $385M spending bill for flood relief, hospitals

By: - July 26, 2021 4:44 pm

Residents in a Grosse Pointe Park neighborhood throw out damaged belongings after the flooding on July 1, 2021 | Ken Coleman

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed into law Monday a $384.7 million spending bill that includes mostly federal funds for hospital costs related to COVID-19, child development and care program providers, disaster relief and public safety efforts and prisoners who were wrongfully imprisoned. 

Whitmer signed the bipartisan Senate Bill 27, a supplemental spending bill for the current Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 budget, at the Ypsilanti Senior Center.

“Right now, our top priority remains moving our state and economy forward so that Michigan families and small businesses can emerge stronger than ever,” said Whitmer in a press release following the event. “This is another example of the good things that can happen when we work together and put Michiganders back to work.”

The bill was first passed by the Senate in March and later passed through the House in late June. The Senate gave final approval last week. 

Roughly $367.7 of the appropriated funds are from federal COVID-19 relief funding, while the remaining $17 million will come from the state’s General Fund. About $10 million out of the $17 million from the General Fund will be used to assist areas in the state that have been impacted by recent flooding. 

Eric Mohammad spoke at the event about his experience in dealing with the flooding in his home in Ypsilanti. 

“I want to express hope that myself and basically everyone on my block, my neighbors that I both know and don’t know are able to get meaningful, purposeful assistance because you need to have a lot of money to absorb something like this,” he said. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signs a bipartisan spending bill, July 26, 2021 | Julia Forrest

A bulk of the funding, $160 million in federal funds, will go to grant awards to hospitals based on total state Medicaid inpatient claims revenue in order to cover boosted hospital costs and decreased revenues resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. 

Another $100 million in federal funds will be used to fund a $23 per Medicaid day boost to nursing facilities that have seen a 5% or above reduction in nursing facilities average daily census. 

The bill allocates $105 million to ensure a 40% increase to child development and care program providers in FY 2021. And it will enable providers to be paid based on enrollment instead of by attendance from June 28 to Sept. 30. 

A small part of the bill’s funding — $2.7 million — will go to the Secondary Road Patrol Program, which will allow sheriff’s departments in various counties to patrol secondary roads. 

The remaining $7 million will go to the Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Fund to support payments to those who have been wrongfully imprisoned and are eligible for compensation according to a 2016 state law. 

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said that even though the $7 million in funding for the WICA fund is a step in the right direction, lawmakers must see the importance of this bill for those who were wrongfully imprisoned. 

“When the Act was signed in 2016, it was a promise to provide relief to those who spent years of their lives in prison for crimes they did not commit,” Nessel said in a news release. “Assisting these individuals as they restart their lives is one way to right that wrong. We owe the wrongfully imprisoned more than just compensation – we owe them support and respect. That cannot be achieved without a proper appropriation to the WICA Fund.” 

Whitmer this month signed a $17 billion School Aid budget for the next fiscal year. However, Whitmer and GOP legislative leaders are still negotiating spending for most of FY 2022, which begins on Oct. 1.

“We’ve come a long way from where we were during the uncertainty of last year’s budget cycle,” said State Sen. Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City). “The supplemental funding that was signed into law today would provide major relief to hospitals that have struggled with resources over the last year, funding to help improve childcare here in Michigan, and money to boost secondary road patrols in the less-traveled areas of my district. We’ve made major investments in education, roads and bridges, along with other COVID-19 relief funding, and with this supplemental being signed, we are taking another step forward for Michigan residents.” 

Whitmer urged continued cooperation with the GOP-led Legislature.

“We’ve got to keep working together,” Whitmer said at the event. “We have a huge opportunity in front of us. Today is another step towards that economic jumpstart.” 

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Julia Forrest
Julia Forrest

Julia Forrest is a contributor to the Michigan Advance. She has been covering Michigan and national politics for two years at the Michigan Daily and OpenSecrets. She studies public policy at the University of Michigan.