American News Dec 29, 2020 9:46 PM EST

Michigan Governor vetoes bill extending unemployment benefits, refuses to lift lockdowns

The bill would have provided $220 million in funding to the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, which would have pooled funds to help businesses provide financial support for laid-off workers.

Michigan Governor vetoes bill extending unemployment benefits, refuses to lift lockdowns
Noah David Alter Toronto
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Democratic Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer vetoed a bill on Tuesday which would have extended unemployment benefits for workers affected by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, MLive reports.

The bill would have provided $220 million in funding to the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, which would have pooled funds to help businesses provide financial support for laid-off workers. The trust fund had $4.6 billion to support workers at the beginning of the pandemic, but has since been depleted to $864 million.

Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman Laura Cox criticized the veto. "First, Governor Whitmer put people out of work with her shutdown orders," Cox said. "Then, through her administration's incompetence, it became almost impossible for out-of-work Michiganders to receive unemployment benefits."

"Now, Whitmer has vetoed extending aid to workers even though her draconian shutdowns continue. Clearly, the 'science' Whitmer is following doesn't include basic economics, and Michigan families are paying the price," Cox finished.

The $220 million was part of a much larger, $465 million relief package which passed the Michigan state legislature with bipartisan support. Whitmer vetoed 11 items within the bill, eliminating over three quarters of the funding approved by the legislature.

The items which were not vetoed by Whitmer include $55 million for small businesses, $3.5 million for the entertainment industry, and $45 million in direct payments to unemployed workers. Despite vetoing an expansion of the unemployment trust fund she extended state unemployment insurance by six weeks.

Whitmer defended her decision to veto the unemployment insurance funding, arguing that Republicans did not negotiate them with her office beforehand.

"To be very clear, this will not impact individual workers," Whitmer claimed. "General Fund dollars have got to be used to fund essential services, like vaccines and PPE not to give tax breaks to big businesses right now."

The Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund is typically paid into by employers to support unemployed workers. According to Whitmer, the government dumping money into the fund would effectively serve as a tax break for the businesses which ordinarily pay into it.

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