Whitmer signs bills to resolve $2.2 billion budget deficit

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday signed spending bills as part of an agreement to resolve a $2.2 billion deficit in the current budget by using federal coronavirus relief aid, tapping savings, shifting funds and banking cost cuts from employee furloughs that are now complete.

The laws include additional funding for K-12 schools and essentially shield universities and community colleges from reductions. Teachers in public and private schools will each get a $500 bonus.

The state still faces a multibillion-dollar shortfall in the fiscal year that starts in two months due to declining tax revenues in the pandemic. Schools in particular are in limbo as they prepare to reopen without knowing their state aid.

“This bipartisan budget package will help protect critical funding for Michigan’s frontline workers, educators and students, but our work isn’t done,” the Democratic governor said in a statement. She again called on President Donald Trump and Congress to work together in a bipartisan way to extend additional federal unemployment benefits and give additional aid to Michigan “so we can maintain essential services like education, health care and public safety.”

The White House and its GOP allies appear to be retreating from their opposition to a $600-per-week supplemental unemployment benefit that has propped up the economy and family budgets but was expiring Friday. Also at issue in the negotiations is an almost $1 trillion Democratic demand for funding for state and local governments.

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