LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a supplemental budget bill that would restore many of the items vetoed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last fall, provide additional funding for projects throughout the state and address the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
“We were able to get more funding approved that will be put toward programs that matter most to Michigan families,” said Sen. Rick Outman, R-Six Lakes. “Today’s action was a major step in the right direction. We needed to wrap up some items and get things squared away before shifting our focus to the upcoming budget.”
The Legislature approved funding that would help the state of Michigan take a proactive approach to the growing concern about coronavirus after two cases were confirmed in the state. The supplemental authorizes up to $75 million in new funding to fight the virus. The funding would support critical state and local preparedness and response activities.
“This was an unexpected expense, but it is something we need to take very seriously,” Outman said. “This money will help Michigan health professionals stay out in front of the outbreak and provide resources and assistance where it’s needed most.”
The bill would restore many of the governor’s vetoes and include funding for job training, people with disabilities and veterans and to help combat rising water levels and shoreline erosion across the state. Included is $5 million to assist with high water levels and $15 million for a partial restoration of the state’s Going Pro program, which is aimed at getting more people trained in the trades and getting them back to work.
“I’ve seen firsthand the success of the Going Pro program,” Outman said. “The Merrill Institute was started in my district back in 2011 to help offset the skills gap in Michigan. I recently had a chance to hear about and see up close the success of the Merrill Institute’s Michigan Works! training program, which is funded by the Going Pro Talent Fund.
“The Merrill Institute has trained over 350 students and currently holds a 94% employment rate for their welding program. That means more people have been able to learn a skilled trade that has placed them into a well-paying job.”
Also included in the plan approved Thursday was funding for special projects in Outman’s district. The 33rd Senate District is set to receive $10,000 for repair studies for the Blanchard Dam and $2.5 million for waterline replacements in the city of Clare, and Ferris State University’s new construction authorization will now move onto the next phase.
“This legislation found a nice balance between restoring crucial state programs, while also taking care of some much-needed initiatives in my district and those of my colleagues,” Outman said. “My colleagues and I will now shift our attention to the upcoming budget with the hope of a smoother year in 2020.”
The legislation will now return to the House for concurrence before going to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for final consideration.