Governor signs COVID aid, vetoes unemployment

The governor approved bills providing COVID aid to people and businesses, but removed $220M for the state's unemployment fund.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday signed a package of bills that will send financial relief to people and businesses harmed by the coronavirus pandemic and related restrictions. But she also rejected $220 million in funding meant to replenish the state’s unemployment system.

The approved funding totals $106 million and includes grants to small businesses, laid off workers, and entertainment venues shuttered by the pandemic for most of this year.

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Unemployment: The governor used a line item veto to axe $220 million for unemployment funding. The money would have come from the state’s general fund and would have shored up the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, which is typically funded by a tax on employers.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Whitmer insisted the general fund money would have amounted to a tax break on businesses. She also said the veto wouldn’t cut off aid to unemployed workers.

“It does not jeopardize a single effort or resource that is dedicated to helping our unemployed and anyone who tells you that is just not being honest about what that really was all about,” she said.

Controversy: The Republican leaders of the state’s House and Senate rejected her assertion.

In a Tweet, State Senate Leader Mike Shirkey said the governor’s veto also eliminates a corresponding extension to unemployment benefits from 20 to 26 weeks.

Whitmer did approve legislation that included the unemployment extension, but Shirkey suggests the extension was tie-barred to the funding and can’t be separated.

You can read more on Michigan Radio.

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