Capital Rundown: a look at this week’s Michigan politics

Capital Rundown

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Recreational areas across Michigan will soon get a facelift if the governor’s new $150 million proposal to update parks and trails goes through.

COVID-19 kept families and friends from getting together for more than a year, it also showed that people are eager to get outdoors.

Here in Lansing, use of parks and rec facilities was up 19% during the pandemic.

That’s just one reason those in charge of the local parks are chomping at the bit to get a piece of this massive funding pie

The Michigan economy was hit hard by COVID-19, but now with hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid at the ready, governor Whitmer knows one place she wants to invest.

“I am proposing we use 150 million dollars so we can invest and modernize Michigan’s local parks,” said Whitmer. This comes on the heels of the governor announcing last month she wants to invest $250 million toward parks and trails to enhance tourism

“We know that our investment in parks and recreation make Michigan a more competitive and attractive destination for tourism,” she said.

She’s calling this potential investment a once-in-a-generation opportunity.

Lansing’s director of parks and recreation Brett Kaschinske said he would be thrilled to receive any additional funds. “We have 111 parks, we have over 2-thousand acres of parklands so we have a lot of infrastructure where we need rehabilitation,” he said.

That’s not to mention four community centers, more than 70 playgrounds,16 miles of river trail and outdoor pools.

Funding normally comes from general funds, state grants and millages, but to have another source…

“This gives us another tool in the toolbox to fund those various recreation pursuits,” said Kaschinske.

If the funding comes through, what would Kaschinske want to fix first?

“The needs of our playgrounds. They were put in in the early 1990s. That’s definitely a glaring need.”

Grants are one of the main ways to fund parks and rec projects. This money would be used toward funding some of those requests.

For the last 5 years, the state has only been able to fund half of the projects. Officials say this would certainly help fix that.

From millions to billions– that’s what schools across the state will get.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a $4.4 billion supplemental spending bill that will end COVID-19 financial aid to Michigan’s K-12 schools.

This money comes from funding passed through congress both under President Biden and former president Trump.

This extra money will boost the usual funding for schools that have a higher percentage of low-income families, like in Detroit public schools.

Approximately $360 million dollars of it will be used to improve the per-student funding in middle and high-income school districts.

COVID relief is also heading right into the pockets of millions of families across the country. It’s coming in the form of monthly payment as part of the new child tax credit created by the covid relief bills.

The first child tax credit payments go out July 15.

Families will get $300 a month for every child under 6 and $250 for every child up to 17 years old.

The credit will phase out the more money famillies make.

Senator Debbie Stabenow says this will help thousands of families right here in Michigan and she wants to see the program expanded forever. Lansing mayor Andy Schor says he agrees.

“When you do a tax credit you want to make sure that it can affect as many people as possible especially those who have need,” said Schor.

“There is no question. People are saying it’s going to make a dramatic difference in their lives,” said Stabenow.

Senator Stabenow says she’d like to see the program expanded permanently. She says she was just with the president this weekend and he’s onboard.

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