Whitmer signs $106 million bipartisan relief bill, extends unemployment benefits to 26 Weeks

Photo courtesy state of Michigan

Posted by The Huron Hub
Dec. 29, 2020

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a bipartisan relief bill today designed to support Michigan families, frontline workers, and small businesses.

The relief bill passed by the Michigan legislature includes $55 million to help small businesses impacted by COVID-19.

Grants of up to $20,000 will be made available to small businesses across the state that need support this winter. The relief bill also includes $3.5 million for grants of up to $40,000 each for live music and entertainment venues, and includes $45 million in direct payments to workers who have been laid off or furloughed as a result of the virus.

“I proposed this stimulus plan to the legislature in November because I know how much our families, frontline workers, and small businesses need relief. This bipartisan bill will provide families and businesses the support they need to stay afloat as we continue working to distribute the safe and effective vaccine and eliminate COVID-19 once and for all,” Whitmer said. “There is still more work to do to eliminate this virus and grow our economy. All Michiganders have a personal responsibility to do their part and mask up, practice safe social distancing, and avoid indoor gatherings where the virus can easily spread from person to person. We will beat this virus together.”

The governor also signed bipartisan Senate Bill 604 extending unemployment benefits for Michiganders who have lost work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic from 20 to 26 weeks until the end of March 2021.

Senate Bill 604 was sponsored by Senator Curtis Hertel.

“No Michigander should have to worry about how to put food on the table or pay their bills, especially during a global pandemic,” said Whitmer. “These bipartisan bills are an important step in providing immediate relief for working families, but there is more work to do. I urge the legislature to take further action to make this permanent. 40 states, including all of our neighbors, automatically provide at least 26 weeks of unemployment relief. Michiganders deserve better than a short-term extension that expires in March. It’s time to work together on a bipartisan, long-term solution for working families.”

Since March 15, Governor Whitmer’s administration has paid nearly $27 billion in benefits to nearly 2.3 million workers.

When she signed the bipartisan relief bill, Governor Whitmer line item vetoed items not subject to negotiated agreement.

That includes a $220 million giveaway of taxpayer money to the employer-owned Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund – a pool of funds designed to help businesses fund benefits for laid off workers.

“General fund dollars must be used to fund essential services like vaccines and PPE, not to give tax breaks to big businesses,” Whitmer said.

The Unemployment Insurance Agency has also provided more than $900 million in tax breaks to businesses impacted by COVID-19.

Today, Whitmer urged the legislature to return to work in January and pass a permanent extension of unemployment benefits and an increase in weekly benefits that provide unemployed Michiganders support during the pandemic.

On Sunday, President Trump signed a COVID relief bill that provides some support for Michigan’s unemployed workers.

This bill extends benefits to self-employed and gig workers and provides all unemployment recipients with an additional $300 per week.

This extension will bring relief to nearly 700,000 Michigan workers who are currently receiving benefits under the federal UI programs.

The continuation of these benefits with the additional $300 per week for all claimants will provide workers with the emergency financial assistance to buy essential items.



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