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Michigan Democrats pass over $1 billion in spending

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Legislature will set aside $200 million dollars out of its about $1 billion in spending for a paper mill in the Upper Peninsula, while also setting aside more money for the state’s economic development fund.

The spending legislation, which was passed late Thursday night by the newly Democrat-controlled Legislature, includes a $946 million spending plan and an additional $146 million to close out last year’s budget, bringing the total spending to nearly $1.1 billion.

Nearly $200 million in grant funding will be set aside for upgrades at the Escanaba Mill, located in the Upper Peninsula and operated by Swedish paper producer Billerud. The company is looking to begin making a more technologically advanced paper product that will be used as packaging for pharmaceuticals and healthcare, cosmetics and drinks.

The funding for the Escanaba Mill comes after the Michigan Strategic Fund approved a 15-year tax break last month to support Billerud’s planned project at the paper mill, which is expected to bring in nearly $1 billion in investments from the Swedish company and retain at least 1,240 jobs in the region.

The passage of the supplemental budget Thursday came one day after Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer delivered a State of the State speech that focused heavily on economic development and keeping jobs in the state.

Rep. Jenn Hill of Marquette called the paper mill project a “generational investment” and said that after the Lower Peninsula received multiple economic development projects last year, it was time for the Upper Peninsula “to have a turn.”

“The governor talked last night about providing young people with a reason to stay in Michigan. A big part of that is economic opportunity,” said Hill. “Let’s invest in the Upper Peninsula and the future of green manufacturing in our state.”

The bill also gives an additional $150 million for Michigan’s Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve, which brings the total remaining balance of the fund to $890 million.

Republicans criticized the late-night spending bill as being rushed and secretive. Rep. Mike Harris of Clarkston said that Democrats planned the bill “behind closed doors” and “waited until the last minute to make this public.”

“Democrats are starting their new majority by shoving an enormous, secret spending bill down the throats of the people of Michigan,” House Republican Leader Matt Hall said in a statement. “They gave the public and their elected representatives virtually no time to read the ridiculously over-stuffed plan before the vote.”

During December’s lame duck session, talks between Whitmer and the Republican-led Legislature stalled before any supplemental budget could be passed. Democrats took full control of both chambers this year and a budget surplus that was projected to grow to over $9 billion by fall.

The Democratic-led Legislature also worked Thursday to pass tax relief that includes increasing the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit to a 30% match of the federal credit, compared with 6% currently, and a retirement tax repeal. Final passage of both bills is expected sometime next week.

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US NATIONAL NEWS

President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Approves California Disaster Declaration

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Today, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. declared that a major disaster exists in the State of California and ordered Federal assistance to supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by a severe storm and flooding from January 21 to January 23, 2024.

The President’s action makes Federal funding available to affected individuals in San Diego County.

Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Ms. N. Allison Pfaendler of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been appointed to coordinate Federal recovery operations in the affected areas.

Additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.

Residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated areas can begin applying for assistance at www.DisasterAssistance.gov, by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362), or by using the FEMA App. Anyone using a relay service, such as video relay service (VRS), captioned telephone service or others, can give FEMA the number for that service.

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White House: President Joe Biden to Travel to Florida

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On Tuesday, January 30th, the President will travel to the Palm Beach and Miami areas of Florida. The President will participate in two campaign receptions.

Additional details to follow.

 

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Biden’s National Economic Advisor Lael Brainard on Today’s CHIPS & Science Act

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President Biden signed the CHIPS & Science Act to restore America’s leadership in semiconductor manufacturing and ensure America’s consumers, businesses, and military maintain reliable access to the chips that underpin nearly every aspect of our economy. We all experienced the impacts of global supply chain stress and semiconductor shortages during the pandemic, and the CHIPS and Science Act provides critical investments to build a robust, resilient American supply chain of semiconductors that power everything from home goods to electric vehicles to satellites. Already as a result of President Biden’s policies and actions in partnership with the private sector, supply chain stress has fallen from near record highs to record lows, and inflation has closely followed.

Today, the Department of Commerce announced the second preliminary memorandum of terms (PMT) for approximately $162 million dollars to be awarded to Microchip Technology. The chips and microcontroller units (MCUs) that Microchip fabricates are essential components in a wide range of consumer and defense products that are critical to American manufacturing, including electric which is only a fraction of the additional private investment that Microchip is making in these projects supply chain that impacts millions of American consumers and businesses.

As the Department of Commerce continues to make award announcements in the coming months, President Biden’s Investing in America agenda will continue to demonstrate how it is delivering for hardworking Americans, creating good jobs, strengthening American supply chains, and protecting our national security.

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