State Majority Whip responds to Gov’s $400 million Covid money ask

Between Michigan's governor and the state budget director, the two are requesting an additional $400 million in aid to help small businesses stay afloat during the pandemic.

It's a lot of money to ask for even as the state looks forward to a widening deficit in its budget in the years ahead. However, with the possibility of federal assistance still in limbo, it may be the best option going forward, one Michigan Republican said.

"There's a definite appetite for the legislature to look at helping our small businesses that are suffering, helping those that have been shut down due to the governor's orders to make sure they're getting the assistance they need and there are employees that are obviously affected by that," said House Majority Whip Jason Sheppard.

Some counties estimate that at least a quarter of all small businesses have shut down due to COVID-19 restrictions that have persisted throughout the year. Even if the state's newest measures lift on Tuesday, many will still require extra help to stay open.

While the relationship between Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Republican legislature has been icy throughout the year, Sheppard says talks are ongoing and is confident something can be done.

"Can we come to an agreement? Yeah. In state government, there's always a pathway to agreement between the Rs and the Ds," he said.

If the federal government does manage to pass relief, then it could be appropriated to places where Michigan's state government has had to take out money. But a deal is still in limbo and other federal programs helping individuals are set to end this month.

"The ability to utilize the relief funds already issued by the federal government goes away at the end of this calendar year, and the tremendous pressure that already exists on our General Fund could be partially alleviated with additional federal aid," said State Budget Director Chris Kolb in a statement.