Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a deal with FEMA Friday morning to get some extra support for Michiganders who lost their jobs during the pandemic.
LANSING, MI — Michiganders out of work during the pandemic lost $600 weekly support they desperately needed in late July. As of Friday, some of that support is coming back.
Now The Federal Emergency Management Agency approved Michigan’s request to add $300 weekly to the support given to Michiganders who lost work during the record-setting unemployment wave caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was able to negotiate additional support from FEMA for Michiganders without breaking the state’s budget. Which matters to people like Michigander Katie Carls.
“No amount of hard work, grit, or sheer determination can fix what has happened, on our end,” Michigan mom and small business owner Katie Carls told The ‘Gander. “We need a cohesive response and plan at a federal level that actually puts the people first. We don’t need profit over people. We need help.”
But that measure is only a fragment of the total relief Michiganders need during the global health emergency. At half the financial assistance Michiganders were getting under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and lacking CARES-style support for small businesses to maintain employment among other essential policies for Michigan families, the FEMA agreement leaves a lot of work for Congress to do.
And Congress remains at an impasse.
“[The FEMA agreement] is good news for the thousands of Michiganders who are still without work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s still a short term band-aid that falls short of what’s needed,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in a Friday morning statement. “We need the president, Mitch McConnell, and Congress to put partisanship aside and pass a bipartisan recovery package that will help us save lives and get people back on their feet. Michigan families, frontline workers, and small business owners are counting on the federal government to do the right thing and work together on their behalf.”
Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency estimated nearly a million Michiganders will receive the additional support. Eligible Michiganders will be paid benefits retroactive to Augu. 1. The state is, at present, unsure how long funding for the program will last.
“This additional $300 a week will provide some much needed support to those who are still struggling to make ends meet during this time of extreme need,” said Steve Gray, Director of the Unemployment Insurance Agency. “Our goal now is to work as quickly as possible to implement this new program to get people the benefits they need.”
Originally, the costs placed on the state by the executive action by President Donald Trump in order to get the additional FEMA funding for unemployment made the state unable to afford the federal funding, but FEMA allowed Michigan to use funds already allocated to unemployment to count as the 25% cost-sharing Trump mandated, Whitmer’s statement explained.
Gov. Whitmer had been critical of Trump’s mandated cost-sharing.
“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,” she said. “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.”
At present, no additional filing requirements exist for out-of-work Michiganders to receive the additional $300 weekly. Anyone collecting at least $100 per week from either Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or the state’s normal unemployment insurance will automatically receive the additional aid.