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Barrett votes for 2022 state budget, calls on governor to honor amendment protecting children from mask mandates

LANSING, Mich.Sen. Tom Barrett on Tuesday voted to approve a balanced fiscal year 2022 state budget plan focused on increasing investments to support Michigan families, building up the state’s workforce and economy, and protecting residents from COVID-19 vaccine mandates and children from wearing face masks.

“In May, I amended the Senate draft of our state budget to prohibit the mandating of face masks and coverings on our kids,” said Barrett, R-Charlotte. “I strongly believe this is a decision for parents to make without interference from the government. This week, the budget passed in its final form, and my amendment was retained in the final bill.

“Governor Whitmer has said she will sign this bill. While she has signaled that she will not enforce this provision, she cannot simply ignore the plain language of the law. I hope she honors her word with her signature and her duty as governor to respect the statutes of this state.”

In addition to its prohibition on directives requiring children to wear masks, Senate Bill 82 bans any department agency, board of public officer from requiring vaccine passports or enacting mandate restrictions as conditions for service or employment.

SB 82 places epidemic reporting requirements on the Department of Health and Human Services within seven days of issuing any emergency order. It also requires the Unemployment Insurance Agency and Secretary of State branch offices to open for in-person walk-in appointments for same-day transactions.

“Once again, the Legislature has stood up for the people of Michigan and responded to their call for greater transparency during public health emergencies and their desire for full access to state services,” Barrett said. “While this fight isn’t over yet, the provisions of this budget bill are a great step in the right direction.”

Barrett, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military and Veterans Affairs/State Police, also highlighted significant funding efforts for law enforcement and veteran services, including $33 million to train new state police troopers and corrections officers; $3.8 million for body cameras and data storage for the Michigan State Police; $2 million for Secondary Road Patrol grants; a $6.5 million investment into the Chesterfield and Grand Rapids veterans’ homes; and $4.25 million to increase funding for veteran service organization and county veteran service grants.

“It is important that we continue to properly fund those who serve and protect us and reinforce their ability to do so,” Barrett said. “These budgets increase our state trooper strength, support law enforcement and help ensure veterans services are adequately funded.”

Other funding outlined by SB 82 includes:

  • $1.4 billion to lower rates and recruit more childcare workers;
  • $414.5 million to permanently increase wages for direct care workers;
  • $40 million for the Going Pro program to support employee training;
  • $55 million for the Michigan Reconnect program to provide tuition-free community college and training;
  • $40 million for the Pure Michigan tourism campaign;
  • $14.5 million to local governments to remove PFAS from the water;
  • $190 million to repair or replace local bridges;
  • $19 million to repair or replace local dams;
  • $500 million to be deposited the state’s rainy-day fund; and
  • $150 million to increase solvency of the unemployment trust fund.

Michigan’s 2022 fiscal year begins Oct. 1.