I hope you and your family are staying safe, healthy and happy! In this edition of my Capitol & Community Update, you’ll find information on the recently approved state budget, small business week, Pollution Prevention Week and the MI Healthy Climate Plan, civic engagement and the Census. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office by phone at (517) 373-1783 or email at PadmaKuppa@house.mi.gov; we’re here and ready to help.
Sincerely, Padma Kuppa
State Representative, 41st House District
Despite the challenges we as a state are facing due to the pandemic, my colleagues and I remain committed to putting the priorities of the people in our district first. Each year, the budget put forth is a reflection of our values, and I believe the 2020-21 budget agreed upon yesterday serves as a symbol of our commitment to ensuring our districts have what they need to both make it through this crisis, and set us up for success in the long term. The budget manages to continue funding the programs and resources our communities rely on while avoiding hurtful cuts to other critical areas. Here are some of the most important highlights:
Investing in Education
- $66 per-pupil increase in school funding above current funding levels
- $1M to forgive outstanding student meal debt
- $5.4M for additional mental health counselors and student support
- $27M to expand eligibility for the Child Development and Care Program for lower-income families
- $500 in hazard pay for teachers during the pandemic
- $30M for the Michigan Reconnect Program
A Strong and Healthy Michigan
- $12.6M for the Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies program to reduce infant mortality rates and racial disparities in birth outcomes
- $10M to cover COVID-19 related costs to nursing homes
- $2.7M one-time additional funding and $4.6M ongoing funding for the Lead Poisoning Loan Fund to protect families in Flint and throughout the state from the dangers of lead
Help with Basic Needs
- $14.3M in grants to expand broadband internet access to underserved communities
- $24M to support disaster response needs to communities impacted by recent flooding
Supporting Michigan Workers
- $40M for increased wages for direct care workers
- $3M to expand the Skilled Trades Pre-Apprenticeship Program to recruit and prepare those pursuing careers in skilled trades
Preserving Our Environment
- $600K for grants to education and conservation on Michigan’s watersheds
- $600K to support the cleanup the ‘green ooze’ in the closed Electro Plating Services building
- $1M for low-interest energy efficiency project loans
While the budget shortfall caused by the pandemic may not be as bad as initially thought, difficult choices still lie ahead. My colleagues and I will continue doing all we can to ensure Michiganders receive the support they need now and well into the future.
Small Business Week
COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on small neighborhood businesses across our state, as many have been unable to safely and successfully operate as they normally would. With this in mind, Gov. Whitmer recently proclaimed this week as “Small Business Week” in the state of Michigan, encouraging patronage of the small businesses that are open, and raising awareness for efforts and resources available to help Michigan’s small businesses stay on their feet and begin to safely recover. For more information, click here. Our office continues to recognize a Small Business of the Month, and would love to hear from you, about a local business that should be recognized!
Pollution Prevention Week
Sept. 21-27 is “Pollution Prevention Week” in the state of Michigan. Pollution Prevention Week is an opportunity for individuals, schools, businesses and communities across the state to share ideas about how they can reduce waste, energy consumption, or how we all can be more efficient and dedicated in our environmental stewardship. As the Great Lakes State, our vast natural resources mean everything to us here in Michigan, and the more we can do to share and promote these ideas to protect our environment, the more we can ensure those resources will be here to enjoy for generations to come. For more information, click here.
This week, Gov. Whitmer also unveiled her MI Healthy Climate Plan which would make Michigan the ninth state to commit to 100 percent economic carbon neutrality by 2050. The science on climate change is clear — it poses a grave threat to our environment, our economy and the health and well-being of our families. This year alone, we’ve seen record-breaking storms and raging wildfires throughout our nation and around the globe. We can no longer afford to wait to take meaningful steps to curb carbon emissions and reverse the impact on our environment. If we don’t act now, it’s our children and our grandchildren that will end up paying the price.
Kuppa’s Coffee and Chat
Monday, Sept. 28, from 5:30 to 6 p.m.
Grab a cup of coffee, jump on my Facebook page and come chat with me from the comfort and safety of your own home! The concerns, health and safety of the residents in my district is my number one priority during this time. I understand that you have questions and concerns and I want to be able to assist in answering as many as I can. Join me for a Virtual Office Hours where I will be providing updates about the ongoing COVID-19 situation and answering your questions.
As citizens of the United States, one of our most crucial responsibilities is to choose the leaders who will represent us and our communities. While the COVID-19 pandemic has presented serious challenges, the Michigan Department of State has been working diligently to ensure that every citizen in Michigan can continue to vote safely and securely.
All registered voters in Michigan can now vote before Election Day using what’s called an absentee ballot. You will not need to provide an excuse or a reason. You can vote by absentee ballot through the mail without leaving your home. You can also go to your city or township clerk’s office or dropbox to return your absentee ballot.
Beginning 40 days before Election Day, local clerk’s offices must have absentee ballots available to be mailed or picked up in-person. If you plan to return your ballot by mail, it is recommended you do so as soon as possible to avoid U.S. Postal Service delays. You can also hand deliver your ballot to your clerk’s office or ballot dropbox by 8 p.m. on Election Day. If you need additional assistance returning your ballot, please contact your local clerk. Election officials are also allowed to assist with the return of absentee ballots.
If you want to avoid the lines, but still vote in-person, clerk offices will have ballots available for early in-person voting beginning 40 days before Election Day as well. You can walk right in and vote at your convenience. All you have to do is contact your local clerk and check their hours. If you need any additional information on the absentee voting process, finding your clerk, or early in-person voting, you can go to www.michigan.gov/vote.
It’s not too late to fill out your 2020 Census and I urge you to take a quick moment out of your day, right now, to join me in doing our small part in building a stronger Michigan for all of us.
Getting an accurate count of every Michigander is vital to making sure our state gets its fair share of federal funding and Congressional representation.
The U.S. Census Bureau is bound by law to protect your answers and keep them strictly confidential. The law ensures that your private information is never published and that your answers cannot be used against you by any government agency or court.
This is the first time you can even fill out the Census online. You should have already received a letter in the mail with instructions on how to complete the questionnaire online or by phone, and it may also include a paper form you can mail in instead. One person per household should answer questions about everyone who lives there, including children.
The Census Bureau’s ability to go door-to-door to collect data from households that have yet to respond has been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite House Democrats’ introduction of a resolution to continue in-person data collection to make up for time lost when stay-at-home orders were in effect, door-to-door data collection will end on September 30. That’s why it’s more important than ever that you fill out the census online, by phone or mail to ensure that you’re counted! Michigan’s future is in our hands, let’s stand up and be counted!
Home Heating Credit
The Home Heating Credit is a way to get help paying some of your heating expenses if you are a qualified Michigan homeowner or renter.
The credit, for most people, is based on a comparison between either your standard credit allowance or your actual heating costs and total household resources.
The credit is designed to provide assistance to low income, deaf, disabled or blind persons and disabled veterans. Michigan residents who are not in these groups may also qualify for the credit. For more information and to see if you qualify, click here.