Michigan Dems Approve Over $1B Worth of Spending

The Michigan Legislature will earmark $200 million from a total budget of about $1 billion for a paper mill in the Upper Peninsula, while also increasing funding for the state’s economic development fund.

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

The Escanaba Mill, located in the Upper Peninsula and operated by Swedish paper producer Billerud, will receive nearly $200 million in grant funding. The company intends to start producing a more technologically advanced paper product that will be used as packaging for pharmaceuticals and healthcare, cosmetics, and beverages.

The Escanaba Mill funding 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 and retain at least 1,240 jobs in the region.

The supplemental budget was approved on Thursday, just one day after Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer delivered her State of the State address, which focused heavily on economic development and job retention 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.”

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