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House Budget: UIA Won’t Get Paid If Unemployed Aren’t Looking For Jobs

May 18, 2021

The Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) would not be able to spend any of its Michigan Works! money until the agency maintains full-time, in-person services, under the House’s budget for Fiscal Year 2022 that passed Wednesday afternoon. 

The Rep. Scott Van Singel (R-Grant) amendment to the General Government budget (HB 4398) requires the UIA needs to restart enforcing the work force requirement for those receiving unemployment insurance benefits. 
 
This requirement was essentially put on pause during the COVID-19 pandemic when officials feared there wouldn’t be enough jobs to go around. Now, businesses are begging employees to come back to work. 
 
Rep. Steve Johnson (R-Wayland Twp.) also got into the budget a 10-employee cut in the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration, saving the state $1.5 million. 
 
As part of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) budget for next year, the department would not be able to require prior authorization, step therapy or other restrictions on medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat opioid withdrawal symptom management under a Rep. Phil Green (R-Millington) amendment. 
 
Outside of a Rep. John D. Cherry (D-Flint) amendment that put in a placeholder for community health innovation regions, the Democrats struck out in trying to amend the House spending plan. 
 
It means the sweeping cuts to department unclassified positions remained in the budget, as well as the quarterly budgeting concept for several department budgets. 
 
House Republican Committee Chair Tom Albert(R-Lowell) praised his subcommittee chairs, particularly Rep. Mary Whiteford (R-Casco Twp.) for her work on the DHHS budget and Rep. Mark Huizenga (R-Walker) for coming up with a per-student funding model for universities and community colleges. 
 
Albert remains committed to his quarterly budget concept, which the Citizens Research Council had called a gimmick. 
 
“It is not a gimmick,” Albert said, who argued his every three-month approach to doling out state revenue to nine state departments is just what the doctor ordered given what’s unfolding in the nation’s capitol with the massive spending programs coming with borrowed money. 
 
“I’m very concerned that it could force a recession like we’ve never seen,” he said in defense of the unique budget strategy. 
 
“They’re spending money like it doesn’t matter and there are some real challenging times coming ahead,” Albert said. 
 
Asked if President Joe Biden was moving the country into a recession, he notes, “It is a very real possibility” and with the quarterly budget he said it is needed to “put us in a position where we can nibble going forward,” which means making spending adjustments if his fears over a recession come to fruition. 
 
“I’m not very optimistic about what the federal government is doing” he added, explaining he is planning for the worse and hoping for the best. 
 
Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Donna Lasinski (D-Scio Twp.) was disappointed that her caucus’ amendments to restore the ability of the Secretary of State to send out absentee voter applications and pay for body cameras for all state troopers didn’t make it. 
 
The Democrats also tried to put more money into broadband infrastructure, addressing racial health disparities and the Double Up Food Bucks Program. 
 
“Today, House Republicans failed to put their money where their mouth is,” Lasinski said. “Elected officials can talk all they want about supporting working families and frontline heroes, but a budget is a true reflection of your values. 
 
“When push comes to shove, Republicans once again demonstrated that partisan games are more important to them than the well-being of Michiganders.” 

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