Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration announced Tuesday it is asking the state legislature to allot “$300 million in federal pandemic rescue funding” for school coronavirus testing, the Associated Press reported.
The federal rescue pandemic funds are from March’s relief law, which was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden. “It is set to expire next summer and is part of a $2.5 billion supplemental spending request that state budget director Christopher Harkins sent to the Republican chairmen of legislative appropriations committees on Nov. 19,” the Associated Press reported.
The request comes as Michigan faces its fourth surge in coronavirus cases since the advent of the pandemic. Presently, the state ranks second in the country in coronavirus cases per 100,000 people. The latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, updated on November 30, shows Michigan registered 479.3 cases per 100,000 people over the previous seven-day period. The state ranks only behind Vermont, which tallied 495.2 cases per 100,000 people over the same period.
“We’d really like to get that school testing money appropriated sooner rather than later,” said Spokesman Kurt Weiss of the state’s budget office, per the Associated Press. “We would love to be able to help school districts isolate cases more quickly so that the schools don’t have to reduce in-person instructional days due to outbreaks.”
The Associated Press reported:
The Senate plans to begin advancing a $3.3 billion proposal to spend federal infrastructure and pandemic dollars on water-quality upgrades, including $1 billion to replace lead pipes and $680 million for dam safety. The House intends to pass $250 million in public safety spending with a mix of federal and state aid. It is unclear if legislators and the Democratic governor will reach a deal in coming weeks.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Thomas Albert, a Lowell Republican, told reporters he is negotiating a “technical end-of-year, close-of-books” supplemental bill that is also tied to discussions over the disbursement of non-discretionary federal funding from both Biden’s coronavirus relief plan and one signed by former President Donald Trump.
Albert said the Legislature previously allotted more than $500 million for COVID-19 testing, $210 million of which had not been spent. Much of Michigan’s federal relief funding can be spent over multiple years, he said.
“We’ve been methodical. We’ve been making sure that we don’t just write a blank check and give it to the governor,” Albert explained, per the Associated Press.
Last week, Breitbart News reported that Whitmer was facing a hospital bed crisis as 84.5 percent of the state’s total inpatient beds were occupied, and 85.1 percent of the state’s intensive care unit (ICU) were occupied. The latest state data, released on December 1, reveals that even fewer beds were available at the time of the report. Of all inpatient beds, 85 percent were occupied, and 85.5 percent of all ICU beds were occupied.