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Whitmer calls on Congress for more COVID aid

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Courtesy U.S. Capitol Visitor Center
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Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she’s aware there’s a growing urgency to making back-to-school plans. But she says it’s still too early to make final decisions on a return to in-school learning. Whitmer said those decisions will depend on the rates of COVID-19 deaths and infections in different parts of the state.

“Our actions today are going to yield what the numbers are on those days when the kids are supposed to get back in school,” Whitmer said at a press briefing. “So, while I can’t tell you what it’s going to look like, I can tell you every day between now and then, we’re watching the numbers very closely.”

The governor re-iterated the importance of wearing face masks and social distancing to help avoid spreading the coronavirus.

Whitmer also called for more COVID-19 assistance from Washington, but said she’s opposed to linking federal K-12 funding to a return to in-school learning. 

“We’ve got 800 districts in the state of Michigan in various regions that have different experiences with COVID-19,” she said.

But Whitmer said federal funding via a third COVID-19 relief bill is necessary for Michigan and other states to avoid deficits, big budget cuts, and painful economic consequences.

Budget Director Chris Kolb says the economic impact of COVID-19 on state revenue is still adding up, but will be in the billions of dollars.

“The budget cuts in the coming year will be severe,” he said, “as cuts to education, public safety, and health care services at both the state and the local level would be unavoidable given the current revenue dollars.” 

Kolb has also asked the Legislature’s budget leaders to convene a conference used to reach a consensus on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on Michigan’s economy and tax revenue.

Rick Pluta is the Capitol Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He is heard daily on WCMU's Morning Edition and All Things Considered.