Whitmer's power in crises might be cut.
Photo courtesy the Office of the Governor

With nearly 100,000 Michiganders infected with the coronavirus, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says Trump is more concerned with winning the election than helping struggling families.

LANSING, MI — With Congress gridlocked over the form of a new coronavirus relief package, President Donald Trump attempted to push forth his own plans for the federal coronavirus response in four memorandums. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Trump’s proposals weren’t enough for struggling Michiganders.

“The president’s recent actions do nothing to protect the millions of unemployed Americans who need to put food on the table for themselves and their families,” Whitmer said in a statement. “He cut federal funding for unemployed workers and is requiring states that are facing severe holes in our budgets to provide 25% of the funding. His refusal to provide full federal funding to states across the country to help us combat this virus will hurt the brave men and women on the front lines of this crisis, like our first responders, health care workers, child care workers, and more.”

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Whitmer has been critical of Trump and Washington Republicans’ reluctance to help states, who bear the burden of the financial costs of the coronavirus pandemic but who must balance their budgets regardless. Michigan managed to address the massive budget shortfall it saw as a result of the pandemic through some cuts to services, and individual Michigan cities have also needed to forgo projects to save money. 

Adding a new expense states will need to pay to maintain a federal program of support for Michiganders impacted by the coronavirus would endanger programs like school funding, which was barely able to remain intact in the last round of budget haggling. 

Despite those financial realities and the way decades of underfunding have left schools unprepared for the pandemic, Trump has aggressively pushed for in-person education to resume this fall. Gov. Whitmer pushed back against that as well.

“The president has repeatedly said that it’s time for our kids to return to school for in-person learning, but he won’t work with Congressional leaders to provide districts with the support they need to keep students, educators, and support staff safe,” she said. “His executive actions … do nothing to protect our kids from the spread of this virus.”

By contrast, the more than 150 executive orders issued by Gov. Whitmer during the pandemic have included safety measures, policy recommendations, relief efforts and public health measures designed to curb the spread of the virus and help out-of-work Michiganders. Her school and business reopening plans, MI Safe Schools and MI Safe Start respectively, have contained specific measures to combat the pandemic.

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Despite a spike in confirmed cases Thursday, Whitmer said Friday that Michigan remains one of the states in which the pandemic is the best handled, and symptom data shows those executive orders had an almost immediate effect on the spread of the virus. 

“[Trump] has routinely proven that he’s more focused on his chances in the November election than fighting the virus that has killed more than 160,000 Americans,” said Gov. Whitmer in a statement. “It’s time for the president to do the right thing, stop playing political games, and work with Congress on a recovery package that will help us fight this virus, protect working families, and send our kids, educators, and support staff back to school safely.”