Michigan House passes business tax relief, money transfer limits, supplemental budget


The Michigan House passed bills Thursday aiming to provide tax relief to small businesses, limit state board transfers of money, and enact a supplemental budget.

HB 4288, passed on a vote of 88-18, seeks to offer small businesses a tax deduction already available for larger companies.

Rep. Jack O’Malley, R-Lake Ann, supported the bill seeking to give small businesses a tax dedication.

“We’ve seen people’s livelihoods taken apart by the pandemic and the orders issued in response,” he said on the House floor. “People in my district have worked decades to raise up their small business, and it’s truly their life work.”

O’Malley said nearly a quarter-million businesses in Michigan fall into this category.

“This bill is going to help our job providers; it’s going to level the playing field for that small guy, as larger businesses in Michigan can already do this,” O’Malley said.

HB 4082, passed on a 58-49 vote, aims to limit the ability of the government to transfer certain funds through the state administrative board. The bill ties supplemental funding for frontline workers and childcare in HB 4409 and supplemental budget bill 4420 to HB 4669, which aims to create a new restricted fund in the state treasury, the Transportation Bond Repayment Sinking Fund.

Rep. Ben Frederick, R-Owosso, said the board’s ability to re-appropriate funds in bills already passed by lawmakers and signed by the governor is “absurd.”

The bill “is a reasonable statutory fix to restore the appropriation process,” he said.

In 2019, Whitmer used the board — comprised of the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, state treasurer, state superintendent and the Department of Transportation director — to transfer roughly $600 million between departments, bypassing the legislature.

The bill aims to require House and Senate Appropriations committee approval from the State Administrative Board to transfer:

  • Increase or decrease an item of appropriation by more than 3% or $125,000, whichever is greater.
  • Increase or decrease an item of appropriation by more than $200,000 in the aggregate.

Democratic Minority House Leader Donna Lasinski, D-Scio Twp, accused the GOP of “playing games” with frontline workers by tying funding to another bill Gov. Gretchen Whitmer likely won’t sign.

The House passed HB 4420 on a vote of 65-42. The bill seeks to appropriate $3.3 billion gross, $1 billion from the state's general fund, and $2.3 billion is from federal stimulus funding.

“We have an opportunity to deliver results for the people of Michigan with this budget,” Rep. Thomas Albert, R-Lowell, said in a statement. “We also have a responsibility to prepare for what could be a challenging financial road ahead. The federal government has enacted policies that artificially prop up our economy in the short term, but could have dangerous and far-reaching consequences in the near future. We must be nimble and prepared to respond accordingly.”

The supplemental funding bill includes:

  • a record-high $16.37 billion school aid fund. Most schools would receive an additional $100 per student, raising the minimum per-student foundation allowance to $8,211. The plan provides $1.5 billion for special education.
  • $1.4 billion for child care, $743 million for food assistance, and $481 million to assist with rent, utility, and energy bills.
  • $686 million in COVID-19 relief for local governments. The supplemental budget seeks to add $150 million to expand rural broadband and $250 million for improving water and sewer systems.

The budget aims to challenge rules enacted by Whitmer, such as giving federal child care funding only when Michigan child care facilities no longer attempt to make kids ages 2-4 wear masks. Other plans call for a state regulatory agency to return workplace fines based on Whitmer’s executive orders deemed unconstitutional. If passed by the Senate and signed into law, the plan would require the Secretary of State and Unemployment Insurance Agency offices to fully reopen, contradicting SOS Jocelyn Benson’s wishes to end walk-in service.

The plans advance to the Senate for further consideration.

Rep Mary Whiteford, R-Casco Twp, called the bill’s $225 million for children’s behavioral health “one of the most impactful investments” in state history.

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