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Michigan Senate passes $1.2 billion spending supplement

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The Michigan Senate approved a $1.2 billion spending plan Tuesday to supplement the current fiscal year's budget.

The plan uses federal money from the American Rescue Plan Act and other grants to fund expenditures related to COVID-19 and other health issues.

The state still has billions of dollars in federal funding left to allocate. State Sen. Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City) is on the Senate appropriations committee. He said lawmakers need to continue spending the remaining money responsibly. He said that's particularly important because the funding is not continuous.

“Making sure that those one-time dollars, which there are a vast majority of, are done with not just with a one-time impact but a 20-, 40-, 60-, 80-, 100-year impact, and [making] sure that we’re putting the money where it’s needed,” Schmidt said.

But Schmidt said he believes the majority of federal COVID-19 aid for schools will have been spent after this bill — contrary to concerns he said he's heard that the money is not being allocated where it's needed.

“We’ve heard from people ‘Oh, the sky is falling,’ and stuff. It isn’t. The money is getting out there, but it’s being done in a very transparent way — in a way that gets it to the people who need it most, not just for some reelection or something like that,” Schmidt said.

Some of the biggest spending areas in Tuesday’s plan include epidemiology and lab capacity, health care worker retention, and school safety grants.

The vote comes a day before lawmakers on the appropriations committees for both chambers of the Legislature expect to hear a presentation of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s budget proposal for next fiscal year.

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