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Michigan House wants to release federal COVID emergency funds for families in installments

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

The Republican led House wants to release federal dollars for COVID emergency help a fraction at a time. The State of Michigan has already received the federal money, but some legislators say they want to limit release of the funds to one-fourth at a time to be more transparent and accountable.

Julie Cassidy is a senior policy analyst with the Michigan League for Public Policy. She says advocates for low-income families are concerned.“The League is very supportive of the aid approved in the bill, but we’re concerned about the process and the politics that have been involved. This funding was designed to help people. But with this installment approach, the positive impact will not be as broad as it could be,” she said.

It’s possible families might not get help with rent in time and end up homeless.

She also says instead of getting all the money out to help as many people as possible, the state runs a risk of missing a federal deadline to spend the funds and might have to give some of it back to Washington.

“And so we’re concerned that a delay in our state Legislature’s approval to deploy the full amount of these funds in our communities means that Michigan residents won’t see any benefit from potentially millions of dollars,” Cassidy said.

Democrats say Republicans are withholding the federal funds in an attempt to pressure Governor Gretchen Whitmer to loosen some restrictions that are in place to slow the COVID pandemic.

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Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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