As our statement released earlier this week conveys, nothing should distract us from the important work that is ahead of us both in addressing the police brutality that is a threat to black and brown people and the pervasive racial disparities in health, housing, education and other policy areas that have been magnified by COVID-19. And while that is top of mind for us at the League, we are also continuing our work to ensure that there are adequate funds to support Michiganders throughout the health crisis and until the economy has recovered.
Last month’s Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference was the bleakest I’ve seen in my decades of working in Michigan.
Projections show a $1.9 billion loss in expected revenue from an $11 billion general fund and a $1.2 billion loss from a $13.9 billion school aid fund for the current budget year. State officials are now projecting up to a $7 billion shortfall over the next 18 months. Numbers like that seem almost unfathomable, and in a state like Michigan, those numbers mean that we need help. The COVID-19 pandemic is a national problem. And it requires a national solution.
We’ve already seen bipartisanship in action in Washington to combat COVID, and the U.S. House has already acted on more funding. Now, it’s up to the U.S. Senate to keep the momentum going.
We’re fortunate enough that U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters understand the dire needs of our state—and our state budget. They understand that the Michigan Legislature has already cut our budget to the bone, so there’s nothing left to trim. They understand that we’re losing out on revenue because of misguided tax cuts for businesses. They understand that in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are hampered by the decade of short-sighted state-level policy and budget decisions that placed us in peril long before the virus came along.
So the national solution can’t come quickly enough if we want Michiganders and our economy to come back strong.
We extend gratitude to Sen. Stabenow and Sen. Peters for the efforts so far—their work on behalf of our state is something we can all be proud of. While the CARES Act and other coronavirus relief they’ve fought for has been a step in the right direction, it’s important that we not end this relief based on arbitrary dates. Extending this relief so that it remains in place until the economy recovers is imperative for Michigan’s future.
The League is encouraging partners and friends to thank Sens. Stabenow and Peters, and urge them to continue to prioritize extending:
- State fiscal relief that can be used flexibly: This will allow our Michigan Legislature to help fix the major hole in the state budget so we can fund schools, infrastructure, local governments and more.
- The temporary increase in the share of federal matching funds for Medicaid (FMAP): In short, this gives Michigan the ability to afford the state Medicaid program and the Healthy Michigan Plan, allowing us to focus on other budget priorities.
- The expanded unemployment insurance: These are not normal times, and workers need assistance not just through the virus, but until the economy recovers. The boost in unemployment insurance payments help those who have been laid off or let go make ends meet until they can get back to work.
- SNAP food assistance: It is imperative that Americans have adequate nutrition. Always. Right now, that means additional funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) so that families and workers can stay strong until the economy comes back.
We also hope you’ll share our social media toolkit with other partners who are interested so we can gain support and push the U.S. Senate to put people first.