State Rep. Matt Hall, of Marshall, this week stood up for small-business owners, students and families by voting to override gubernatorial vetoes on pivotal COVID-19 recovery funding.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer slashed nearly $1.5 billion from a plan recently approved by the Legislature, including over $800 million in school funding and over $400 million which would go directly to helping job providers.  Despite originally voting to send the measures to the governor’s desk last week, many Democrats in the Michigan House were not supportive of Tuesday’s overrides – which caused them to fail without two-thirds support.

“What we clearly saw was Democrats being more comfortable with being on the governor’s side than standing up for small-business owners, students, and families in their communities,” Hall said. “It’s a shame. Small businesses have been impacted severely by Gov. Whitmer’s executive orders over the past year. Hardworking people have been unable to make a living through no fault of their own. And now the governor is withholding funding that will help them on their road to recovery.”

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More than 2.6 million people in Michigan have applied for unemployment during the pandemic, including many small-business owners who could not operate under wide-ranging orders from the governor. Thousands of people are still waiting to receive payments for their unemployment claims.

According to Harvard’s “Track the Recovery” project, 40 percent of Michigan small businesses are closed.

The vetoes also wiped out roughly $150 million to replenish a stressed unemployment insurance trust fund. While chairing the Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic during the 2019-20 legislative term, Hall underscored the fund’s rapid depletion from widespread unemployment claims and how small business owners would be leaned on more heavily to make it whole. The funding the Legislature passed would have alleviated some of that reliance and provided additional needed assistance to small business owners struggling to make ends meet.

“Small business owners are on the hook for these trust fund payments,” Hall said. “Their livelihoods have already been impacted immensely by Gov. Whitmer’s shutdown orders. Her administration disabled fraud detection tools and reassigned fraud investigation personnel, which led to fraud that depleted the fund further on top of the surge in claims. Now she is taking out money that would go toward alleviating the problems she and her administration caused with their decisions. It’s not the right course of action for hardworking people in our state who desperately need relief.”

At issue for the governor and most democrats was a provision in the bills that would restore pandemic decision making to the elected legislature.  But Brian Calley, president of the Small Business Association of Michigan said the business provisions in the bills were not tied to that question of emergency powers.

"Today’s veto sends a message that the state is not serious about the survival of small businesses.  Calley said in a statement issued Tuesday afternoon. "We worked hard to ensure that small business support was not tied to curtailment of any emergency powers because we didn’t want the governor to have to pick between emergency powers and supporting small business. She could have done both because small business support was not tied to emergency power reductions."

 

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