Hope everyone is warm and surviving the cold temperatures. As we take a break from clearing the snow, I wanted to provide you with some useful and exciting updates from our office – including details on a couple of unique programs our office is starting. The first is the House District 21 Student Advisory Group, which will be a great way for students to get involved, and the other is the Exceptional Educator nomination, an opportunity to help recognize the hardworking educators of our district. Please find more details on both below.
My office is working hard every day to connect with constituents around the district and help answer questions. If we can assist in any way, please do not hesitate to contact our office! My office is reachable by phone at (517) 373-2575, and by email at RanjeevPuri@house.mi.gov.
State Representative, 21st District
Proudly serving Belleville, Canton, and Van Buren Township
In this Edition:
- Budget Update
- COVID-19 Update
- Unemployment Update
- District Spotlight
- What We’ve Been Up To
- Upcoming Time with Ranjeev
We are now one full month into the 2021-2022 legislative session! Committee meetings are in full swing and the budget process has just begun. This means that the Appropriations Subcommittees in Lansing have started to meet, the Governor’s office has given its budget recommendations, and in a few months, we will be voting on the budget for the Fiscal Year 2022.
While the actual timeline varies year to year, the budget process can be simplified using the following cycle:
Governor Whitmer’s FY 2022 Budget Proposal
Last week, Governor Whitmer’s state budget director, David Massaron, presented the governor’s recommendations for the Fiscal Year 2022 budget, totaling $67.1 billion, to a joint House and Senate Appropriations Committee meeting. This executive budget recommendation is centered on increased funding for students and teachers, investments into our infrastructure, addressing and ending the public health crisis, protecting our Great Lakes, and boosting and aiding Michigan businesses who have struggled over the last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The budget recommendation includes a General Fund total of $11.4 billion and a School Aid Fund total of $14.7 billion. It provides a significant amount of one-time funding made possible by the increase in federal aid and the effective job Michigan has done in managing the pandemic. The recommendation is built with an eye toward the future to ensure that the Fiscal Year 2023 budget is balanced as well.
Some highlights of the budget proposal include:
- The largest investment in schools in Michigan history, with an over $200 million increase in per pupil funding
- $370 million investment in student mental health, college readiness, and summer & afterschool learning programs to support academic recovery
- $32 million for Great Start Readiness preschool program, the first-rate increase since 2014
- $2.9 million to address Michigan’s teacher shortage through retainment support and incentivized recruitment
- 2% increase in funding for universities and community colleges
- Nearly $200 million investment in Michigan talent through tuition-free college and expanded career training and workforce development programs
- $362 million to expand affordable childcare options, including increasing income eligibility threshold
- Permanent $2/hr. wage increase for direct care workers
- Over $60 million to expand mental health access for vulnerable Michiganders
- Over $25 million to expand MiChoice Program, allowing more seniors to stay in their homes
- $15 million for home health and safety programs, including lead removal and pre-weatherization
- Increased focus on reducing health disparities through expanding access to existing health programs, creation of the DHHS Race, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Office
- $6.7 million to fund the Sickle Cell Disease Initiative
- $3.9 billion to repair our crumbling roads
- $300 million to repair local bridges in serious and critical condition
- $15 million for dam safety emergency response
- $290 million to remove failing septic systems and address sewer overflows and public health risks to surface and groundwater
- $20 million to enhance the state’s ability to mitigate advanced, hostile cyber threats to our security
- $20 million to support rapid response to contamination sites posing immediate environmental and public health threats
- $5 million investment in Michigan Saves Green Bank, which will leverage $150 million in private investments in clean energy improvements across the state
A summary of the Governor’s recommendations can be found here.
MDHHS Epidemic Orders
The latest epidemic order from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services went into effect on Feb. 8 and remains in effect until Mar. 29. This order allowed indoor dining to resume across Michigan on Feb. 1. I know many across our district and throughout the state have enjoyed being able to safely visit our local restaurants again.
The guidelines for indoor dining are illustrated below:
Additionally, contact sports are back! This epidemic order allowed contact sports to resume on Feb. 8, provided masks are worn during practices and competition. Complete gathering guidelines can be found below:
Many of you have been reaching out to our office with questions or concerns around the COVID-19 distribution process. Our office will continue to include the most up to date information on vaccines in these bi-weekly updates. As of Feb. 16, Michigan has administered 1.7 million vaccines. Residents 50 and older account for the majority of doses administered so far, with the biggest group being between 65 and 74. We know our state was off to a rough start, but things have been picking up. As of last week, Michigan ranks 8th among U.S. states for total shots given, and 10th for distribution.
At this time, the best place to find information on the COVID-19 vaccine is still with our local health department.
The Wayne County Health Department COVID-19 webpage provides comprehensive details around vaccine information, registration and immunization sites. They have also created a Frequently Asked Questions Document and a Vaccine Info Packet which may be particularly helpful that can be found here.
On Mon. Jan. 11, MDHHS moved into a new phase of vaccine distribution, as shown in the image below.
SENIOR CITIZENS IN WAYNE COUNTY
Wayne County put out additional guidance for senior citizens indicating that seniors will get vaccine shots from their hospital systems. Your system may notify you directly on how to schedule your shot.
Hospital Systems in Wayne County
- Beaumont Health
- Detroit Medical Center
- Henry Ford Health System
- St. John’s – Ascension Health
- St. Joseph Mercy- Livonia – Trinity Health
- Garden City Hospital
Seniors who do not belong to a hospital system can pre-schedule with Meijer. Only online appointments accepted. No “walk ups”. Register for Meijer here. Additionally, select Rite-Aid pharmacies are accepting appointments for vaccination appointments. You must pre-schedule, appointments for qualified individuals can be made here.
On Feb. 15, MDHHS announced a new program to enhance the state’s equity strategy to reach more Michiganders with the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. This announcement adjusts prioritization guidance, for example allowing workers in food processing and agricultural settings to be vaccinated starting Mar. 1. This new guidance can be found here.
The graph below from MDHHS illustrates the preliminary COVID-19 vaccine eligibility timeline based on the number of vaccines currently received by the state from the federal government. This graph includes the updates made by MDHHS to prioritization groups referenced above. Please note, this graph is subject to change as supply and distribution numbers become clearer going forward.
Michigan COVID-19 vaccination timeline as of Jan. 15, 2021
We know that there are not yet enough vaccines to meet the high demand, but I am optimistic that supply and distribution will continue to ramp up in the coming weeks and months.
I personally have not received my vaccination and will continue to exercise all social distancing Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations until guidance is updated. Please be patient. It will take time to get shots to all. While you wait, stay safe.
- Please wear a face mask or double mask when necessary
- Practice safe distance.
- Avoid large crowds.
For statewide vaccine distribution information, visit the State of Michigan COVID-19 Vaccine website.
Individuals filing a new PUA application on or after Jan. 31, 2021, are required to provide documentation within 21 days from the date of the employment verification request that will be sent to you.
Individuals who applied before Jan. 31, 2021, and who receive payment of PUA on or after December 27, 2020, are required to provide proof of employment or self-employment or the planned start of employment or self-employment within 90 days from the date of the employment verification request that will be sent to you.
If you do not submit the proof, or if the proof is not sufficient to establish that you were employed or self-employed, your PUA benefits will stop and you may have to repay PUA benefits that you already received.
The UIA has a list of acceptable documents to verify your identity which you can access using this link.
If you find that you are in need of assistance with your unemployment claim, you can contact my office using this form.
CHILD CARE WORKGROUP APPOINTMENT
I am extremely proud to announce that I have been appointed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer to serve on a special workgroup focused on developing bipartisan recommendations to dramatically improve access to child care and the financial stability of child care providers. This is my first Governor appointment, and I am excited to help find solutions for an issue affecting families across Michigan. I will be joined by stakeholders specializing in the different aspects of the child care industry from throughout the state.
Nominate an Exceptional Educator
We all know that educators have been giving their all for our children and they deserve special recognition for the tremendous work they do to serve our communities and our state. If you know an Exceptional Educator that has truly gone above and beyond for their students, please help us recognize them.
Our office plans to present an official State of Michigan Tribute for their dedication and work during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. To nominate an educator, please fill out this form. You may make more than one submission.
UPCOMING TIME WITH REPRESENTATIVE RANJEEV PURI
As noted in previous newsletters, due to COVID-19 and out of an abundance of caution, we will be meeting virtually for the time being. My office will be exploring options for future meet-ups and town halls, including outdoor, socially distanced options once weather permits in the spring. Most importantly though, we will continue to follow all guidance from the CDC and MDHHS, and will be excited to meet again in person when it is safe to do so. Please let us know what times work for you!
Virtual Coffee Hour, March 1, 6-7 p.m.
Live Streamed via YouTube and social media
- YouTube Channel: Rep. Ranjeev Puri
Any questions or comments during the coffee hour can be put in the chat feature and will be addressed during the live stream. If you would like to pre-submit any questions, please email RanjeevPuri@house.mi.gov.
You may view my website for the most up-to-date events, and should continue to watch future E-newsletters and social media posts for information on the future of any coffee hour or in-district time we may have together.
WHAT WE’VE BEEN UP TO
District 21 Student Advisory Group
I am proud to introduce the newly formed District 21 Student Advisory Group! We have had so many young individuals from the district reach out to our office seeking internship opportunities or ways to be involved. We hear you! I am so incredibly proud to represent such active, engaged young individuals. This is why we wanted to provide an opportunity to work with each and every one of you.
The Student Advisory Group (SAG) will provide a forum for high schoolers to meet with me and my team to hear updates on what is happening in Lansing, ask questions, and share their own thoughts, ideas, or concerns. SAG will allow students to network, learn more about state government and how it affects you, as well as provide opportunities to its members to engage in special projects.
Details are below:
To apply, fill out this form by March 15th.
We will be sharing this opportunity across social media and be working directly through our local high schools to get the word out. Do not hesitate to share this opportunity with any student in the district who may be interested.
*Please note that all students will be required to submit a signed permission slip from a parent or legal guardian once accepted to participate.
I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU
During this challenging time, it is more important than ever to stay in touch. I want to hear from you. What do you need? How can we help you? My office is here to assist you or answer any questions you may have. Please, reach out to me at RanjeevPuri@house.mi.gov.
Communications from my office will be available via bi-weekly email updates or social media. Otherwise, please feel free to reach out to our office directly and do not hesitate to reach out for assistance.
I hope that this information has been helpful and that we can be together again soon in person.