Governor signs spending bill, nixes COVID restrictions

The $53 billion budget will shore up ambulance services and bridges, but will not include a ban on mask mandates.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday signed a long-awaited budget bill, narrowly avoiding a state government shutdown. The $54 billion budget was the result of negotiations between the Democratic governor and Republican-led state legislature. But not all of it escaped the governor’s veto pen.

Whitmer used her line-item veto power to cancel out several clauses. She also described several others as “unenforceable.” Chief among them was a provision that would bar local and state health officials from enacting mask mandates. Another would have prohibited public universities from having vaccine requirements.

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The governor’s spokesperson Bobby Leddy said those provisions were dangerous.

“With the delta variant circulating, it is important for Michiganders to have every available tool in their toolbox to protect themselves and others from this deadly virus,” he said.

The new budget aims to help state workers in a number of ways. One provision will direct $1.4 billion in COVID relief funds toward child care providers. It will provide one-time $1,000 bonuses to child care providers, while also subsidizing child care costs for thousands of residents.

The budget would also boost funding for ambulance services in an effort to help recruit more EMTs and paramedics. A lack of first responders is causing long wait times for people in need of emergency services.

[Bridge Michigan, MLive]

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