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State Senate GOP proposes $2B in coronavirus spending

LANSING — Republicans who control Michigan’s Senate on Tuesday proposed $2 billion in COVID-19 relief aid, including $500 million in state funding to help businesses hurting due to the pandemic.

The plan would spend less than what was outlined by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer — $5.6 billion — and the GOP-led House, which voted last week to spend nearly $3.6 billion. The Legislature and governor must agree before disbursing billions in federal relief enacted by Congress and then-President Donald Trump in late December.

“Instead of issuing a blank check for the governor to use without a detailed plan, our plan funds our state’s most pressing needs and saves additional resources so we can continue to assess the situation and have the ability to respond to problems as they arise,” said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas, a Midland Republican.

The proposal would fund vaccine distribution, a pay raise for certain health care workers and rental assistance — largely with federal aid — along with a $450 increase in per-student K-12 funds to address learning loss tied to school closures.

State funding would be used to offset property tax payments and licensing and inspection fees for businesses and to boost the Unemployment Trust Fund.

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