Meeting unprecedented challenges
This has been a difficult year filled with unimaginable struggles.
Still, I am confident about the future, and proud of the way we have come together to meet those unprecedented challenges.
We started the year by addressing shoreline erosion because of historically high water levels in the Great Lakes and restoring more of the governor’s budget cuts, such as support for local hospitals, people with disabilities, and job training.
Then COVID-19 came to Michigan in March.
It’s effect on our state is hard to fully comprehend. The virus has infected over 460,000 people in Michigan and more than 11,000 deaths have been attributed to it. Beyond that, the governor’s unilateral actions unnecessarily compounded the situation — endangering lives, shutting down our economy, and costing thousands of people their livelihoods.
In March, we acted immediately to pass critical funding to help fight the virus. We also stood up for our students, teachers, nursing home residents, struggling small businesses, and the workers who lost their jobs because of the shutdowns.
We’ve now approved nearly $4 billion in funding for this fight, and recently sent the governor a $465 million COVID-19 relief measure to help Michigan health care workers combating the virus, increase testing capacity, ensure safe distribution of the vaccine, and extend unemployment benefits until April.
The new funding will also ramp up testing of teachers to help ensure healthy schools, help hospitals and nursing homes address nursing shortages, and help small businesses shuttered by the governor’s orders avoid permanent closure.
Our previous funding efforts reduced the cost of child care for working families, supported local public health and safety efforts, invested in personal protective equipment, supported remote learning and fixed a broken unemployment system that failed to ensure workers who lost their jobs because of the governor’s shutdowns received assistance to support their families.
We are in this together, and I was proud to stand up for our system of government and the voice of the people when the governor repeatedly chose unilateral action.
Unfortunately, even after the Michigan Supreme Court ruled against her abuse of power, the governor continues to go it alone instead of working with us.
In the middle of the pandemic, the counties of Midland, Gladwin, and Arenac were devastated by historic flooding that washed out two dams and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.
Although it was heartbreaking to see the aftermath, it was equally heartwarming to see the outpouring of support from the community. We were able to pass emergency funding to help support cleanup efforts, and I remain dedicated to helping impacted families recover from that disaster.
As state Senate Appropriations Committee chairman, I was proud to lead the effort to balance historic budget deficits in both the 2020 and 2021 fiscal years while increasing investments in important areas like K-12 education and public safety — without raising taxes.
We increased state aid payments for all schools by $65 per student and invested over $57 million for early childhood literacy programs and $25 million to help schools and families with distance learning connectivity.
We also fully funded the 2015 plan to help fix the state’s roads and increased revenue sharing funding to support local responders who have protected us during this difficult year.
As we look forward to 2021, I remain committed to doing everything I can to help defeat this virus, help businesses and workers recover, and improve the lives of all Michigan families.
I hope you had a safe and happy holiday and have a wonderful new year!