Gov. Whitmer pitches $2.1 billion spending plan

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer pitched a $2.1 billion spending plan using federal stimulus funds on Monday but only specifically mentioned $1.1 billion of spending, leaving $987 million unnamed.

According to a press release, $722 million would go towards educating middle class workers, $651 million would go to supporting small businesses and job growth, and $800 million to build housing and invest in communities. All plans would require legislative approval, and it’s unclear where the GOP-led Legislature stands on this spending.

“Since day one, I have been laser-focused on putting Michiganders first and tackling kitchen-table issues with real, tangible solutions,” Whitmer said in a statement. “As we emerge from the once-in-a-century pandemic, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to use billions in federal resources to grow Michigan’s middle class, support small businesses, and invest in our communities. With the $2.1 billion in proposals I have laid out, we can raise wages, give people paths to high-skill jobs, grow start-ups, build clean energy infrastructure, and do so much more.”

Under the first category, Whitmer wants:

  • a $215 million expansion of Michigan Reconnect and Future for Frontliners programs
  • $70 million investment in connecting workers to industries,
  • $100 million for the Going Pro program,
  • Further investments in programs that offer work experience to those earning their GEDs and reentering society after incarceration.

Whitmer outlined $200 million spending to boost the business environment for high-tech, high-growth startups. Whitmer wants $40 million to speed electric vehicle charging infrastructure, $100 million to prepare manufacturers and the workforce for future opportunities, and an $11 million of spending into the STEM Forward program.

Whitmer’s proposing $50 million to create more energy-efficient homes, $100 million to rehabilitate vacant buildings and $200 million to redevelop brownfield sites, and $100 million to build development-ready sites conducive to business investment.

Whitmer’s office hasn’t yet responded to a request for comment on plans for the apparent remaining unspent $987 million in her plan.

The business community welcomed the pitched spending.

“Michigan has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in talent development, entrepreneurship, and job creation to help us emerge from the pandemic as a stronger, more competitive state,” Jeff Donofrio, CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan, said in a statement. “The Governor’s proposed investment would help to close the skills gap, remove barriers to work, keep and attract talent, increase entrepreneurship, and create jobs in Michigan. We look forward to working with the Governor and legislative leadership on these and other transformational investments.”

COVID-19 and restrictions to slow its spread hit Michigan’s economy hard as Whitmer enacted the toughest-in-the-Midwest rules that lasted the longest.

Michigan’s economy is slowly recovering, the Department of Technology, Management, and Budget said Aug. 18.

“Michigan’s labor market continued to recover during July,” Wayne Rourke, associate director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, said in a statement. “The unemployment rate moved to the lowest level since March 2020, and the state recorded the largest monthly payroll job gain since February 2021.”

Michigan’s employment numbers last month remained 5.4% below pre-pandemic levels from February 2020.

This article was originally posted on Gov. Whitmer pitches $2.1 billion spending plan

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