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Gov. Whitmer asks Washington to help state's budget

Posted at 6:44 PM, May 28, 2020

LANSING, Mich. — Governor Gretchen Whitmer held a press conference Thursday afternoon to provide an update on the state's continued response to COVID-19.

The governor said she's worked with her administration to protect Michigan residents from the health and economic crises as a result of the coronavirus.

During her press conference, the governor listed the amount of money the state has spent in fighting COVID-19. She said the state has more than $436 million fighting COVID-19 in the past 10 weeks, which is money the state wasn't planning on spending when the budget was set a year ago, on top of the $3 billion the state has already lost in tax revenue.

The governor said there is no way to cut spending enough to fill the estimated $6 billion hole over the next two years. She called on the federal government to come together to help Michigan and other states facing budget challenges. Under the current federal cares act, states can't use federal aid money to pay for things that were in the budget before the pandemic started.

The governor called on the federal government to come together to help Michigan and other states facing budget challenges as a result of the virus.

"Our enemy now is not one another, our enemy is a virus called COVID-19," the governor said. "We can't do it on our own," Gov. Whitmer said.

The governor said she has taken a 10% pay cut, with her executive staff taking a 5% pay cut in order to help the budget.

Moving forward, the governor said her top priority is delegating funding to education. The governor said without aid from the federal government, K-12 schools are facing multibillion-dollar cuts.

She also wants to allocate funding to law enforcement and first-responders, in addition to extending unemployment benefits.

"I will work to prioritize funding for vaccine research," the governor said.

She said also wants to prioritize funding for the state's infrastructure and paid family leave.

Gov. Whitmer said she also wants to allocate funding to her Futures for Frontliners program, which will allow people without college degrees who work in hospitals, nursing homes, grocery stores, child care, delivery services and more to benefit from free college opportunities like technical certificates and associate degrees.

During the press conference, MDHHS Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said the state is nearing its goal of administering 15,000 tests per day.

She urged the importance of contact tracing, asking people to be honest with the health department if they've tested positive for COVID-19. She said if the health department warns you to self-quarantine, to take it seriously.

In addition to addressing the impact COVID-19 has had on the state's budget, the governor also addressed comments Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey made Wednesday, calling them "inappropriate."

Senator Shirkey said the governor lied in a cover-up about her husband asking his boat to be put in a lake early.

The governor said he could've given her a call if he had questions about why she wanted Senator Tom Barrett to remove a Facebook post about her husband over the weekend. Gov Whitmer said the state has more pressing issues and they should be working together.

On Wednesday, the governor addressed the controversy surrounding her husband, saying he made a "failed attempt at humor."

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