Whitmer demands $300 million for COVID-19 testing in schools | News, Sports, Jobs – Community News
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Whitmer demands $300 million for COVID-19 testing in schools | News, Sports, Jobs

LANSING, Mich. The administration of Governor Gretchen Whitmer said Tuesday it wants lawmakers to quickly allocate $300 million in federal pandemic rescue funding to support COVID-19 testing in schools amid a fourth wave of infections in Michigan.

The money was included in the relief bill passed by Congress and President Joe Biden in March. It expires next summer and is part of a $2.5 billion request for additional spending that state budget director Christopher Harkins sent to Republican chairmen of the legislative appropriations committees on Nov. 19.

The GOP-led lawmaker returned to session on Tuesday after a two-week hiatus. Corona cases

“We would really like that money for school exams to be allocated sooner rather than later,” Kurt Weiss, spokesman for the state budget office, said it has a shorter timeline than other funds. “We would like to help school districts isolate cases more quickly so that schools don’t have to reduce in-person instruction days due to outbreaks.”

Senate plans to put forward a $3.3 billion proposal to spend federal infrastructure and pandemic dollars on water quality improvements, including $1 billion to replace lead pipes and $680 million for safety of dams. The House plans to pass $250 million in public safety spending with a mix of federal and state aid. It’s unclear whether lawmakers and the Democratic governor will reach a deal in the coming weeks.

House Appropriation Committee chairman Thomas Albert, a Lowell Republican, told reporters he is negotiating a “technical end-of-year bouquet” additional bill also linked to discussions of disbursement of nondiscretionary federal funding from both Biden’s coronavirus relief plan and one signed by former President Donald Trump.

“There’s a lot there. We’re trying to find areas where we can come together and get those things done,” he said.

Albert said the legislature had previously allocated more than $500 million for COVID-19 testing, of which $210 million was unspent. Much of Michigan’s federal aid funding can be spent over several years, he said.

‘We have been methodical. We’ve made sure we don’t just write a blank check and give it to the governor,” said Albert. “Now we are finding different ways to spend the money. There may be an opportunity to use test funding to address staff shortages in our hospitals and various healthcare providers. We dig through that.”

The state has a record number of adults hospitalized with confirmed cases of coronavirus. It had the country’s second-highest seven-day infection rate on Tuesday.

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