By Laina G. Stebbins, Michigan Advance
Democratic leaders joined Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist in Lansing Tuesday morning for the signing of a $1.1 billion supplemental appropriations bill — the earliest a bill has been signed into law in a new session since 1947.
Sponsored by Senate Appropriations Chair Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing), Senate Bill 7 provides a funding boost for small businesses, housing, health care, job retention programs, family programs, water shutoff prevention and more.
It’s the first of many long-sought Democratic priorities — many of which mark reversals of policies implemented under Republican former Gov. Rick Snyder — that can now be signed into law with the new legislative majority.
“The reality is that the previous administration chose to balance the budget on the backs of people who can afford it the least,” Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) said at the press conference. “Seniors on fixed incomes, low income families — some of our most vulnerable citizens. But those of us on this stage here today are committed to smart budgeting, to undoing harmful policies that keep people down and proactively doing a lot of good along the way.
“ … This is a tremendous success to witness a governor sign any legislation at all in January of a new session. And it’s also a good sign of the things to come,” Brinks added.
The legislation includes:
- $150 million for affordable housing
- $100 million for community revitalization and development projects
- $75 million for blight elimination
- $75 million for small businesses hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic, with at least 20% of awards granted to minority-owned businesses
- $50 million to increase the supply of housing stock for construction or rehabbing
- $25 million for job training and other occupational supports
- $15 million to remove barriers to employment for at-risk individuals
- $25 to create the Water Shutoff Prevention Fund
SB 7 also includes $1.5 million to fund the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (ICRC). The panel is constitutionally required to stay intact and receive funding until it resolves all legal challenges against the new maps.
GOP leadership had failed to pass a supplemental appropriations bill during the lame duck session, and did not include the ICRC in its overall budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 that began in October.
“We were working for the last couple of months of last year hoping to get a supplemental over the finish line and, unfortunately, we weren’t able to get it done,” Whitmer said Tuesday. “But in a matter of weeks, the two of you [Senate Brinks and House Speaker Joe Tate (D-Detroit)] got it done and did it in a bipartisan fashion.”
“ … This is the earliest a Michigan governor has signed a bill into law since 1947. And it’s just the start of a very productive year and productive term, and I cannot wait to see what we’re going to get accomplished,” Whitmer said.
Another bill heading to Whitmer’s desk for a signature is Senate Bill 8, which would add $45.6 million to the state’s School Aid Fund for the current Fiscal Year and $27.9 million in federal money for FY 2023. The Michigan Senate passed the measure with immediate effect on Tuesday.
Whitmer is expected to sign SB 8, but it is unclear when that may happen.