Susan J. Demas
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday spoke at length about the state of Michigan’s budget at a news conference and broke down what Michigan has so far spent to curtail COVID-19 infections.
Michigan’s roughly $11 billion General Fund — the state’s main discretionary account for health care, prisons, natural resources and more — was “stretched thin” prior to the pandemic, Whitmer said. The pandemic-caused economic shutdown has caused state tax revenues to plummet. Michigan’s annual budget is roughly $60 billion.
A sizable chunk of spending has also been shelled out to take measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Whitmer said the state has spent $25 million on hospitals, $3.4 million on nursing homes, $101 million on childcare and $251 million on personal protective equipment (PPE) like N-95 masks, hand sanitizer, ventilators and hospital beds. On top of that, about $8.5 billion in unemployment insurance has also been paid to Michigan workers made jobless by the pandemic, she said.
Going forward, budget priorities will be giving COVID-19 hazard pay and unemployment benefits to workers, funding vaccine research at Michigan universities, providing paid sick and family leave and allocating funding to schools, Whitmer said.
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