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Whitmer unveils economic recovery plan, proposes higher wages and no-cost childcare

Among other things, the plan would increase worker wages, provide grants to small businesses and expand access to affordable childcare.

LANSING, Mich — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer traveled to Grand Rapids Thursday to unveil an economic recovery plan with local entrepreneurs and business leaders.

The Michigan Economic Jumpstart Plan would allocate a portion of the state’s federal relief funding to support and invest in Michigan workers and small businesses. Among other things, the plan would increase worker wages, provide grants to small businesses and expand access to affordable childcare.

“As we continue to take steps to jumpstart our economy, we need to have a real conversation about putting Michigan back to work with better jobs and bigger paychecks,” Whitmer said. “Under the Michigan Economic Jumpstart plan, we can harness these once-in-a-lifetime economic opportunities and channel it to raise wages, invest in small businesses, and uplift families.”

According to the state, Michigan has gone from a nearly $3 billion deficit to a $3.5 billion surplus in just one year. 

Michigan has more than $2 billion remaining in Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act funding and nearly $20 billion in total funding from the American Rescue Plan. Because of this, Whitmer said the state is in a strong position to make large investments.

Whitmer's full news conference: 

Under the Economic Jumpstart Plan, the state would invest in the following areas:

Better Paychecks: The plan would invest $300 million to encourage businesses to increase wages. The state would offer grants to cover the difference between current wages and $15 per hour. Those grants would cover the first three months of the raise if businesses commit to continuing it for at least three more months. Under this section of the plan, investments would also be made to Michigan Reconnect and Futures for Frontliners.

Small Businesses: The state would utilize $100 million to help restaurants and other place-based businesses cover costs. The plan will set aside $25 million for small businesses with less than 9 employees, which is over half of Michigan businesses and a high proportion of women and minority-owned businesses. 

Childcare: In her executive budget recommendation, Whitmer proposed a $370 million investment to expand access to no-cost or low-cost childcare for 150,000 more families. Under the Economic Jumpstart Plan, the income eligibility threshold would temporarily increase from 150% to 200% of the federal poverty line, would waive out-of-pocket copays through fiscal year 2022, and would provide a 10% increase in hourly rates for child-care providers.

“The combination the federal stimulus plan and the improving public health situation have set the stage for robust growth in Michigan,” State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks said. “The Governor’s plan will jumpstart the economy by providing the support that small businesses need to recover and grow and by helping parents find the child care they need to get back to work.”

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