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Local officials cannot order mask mandates for children under new state budget awaiting approval

The budget still has to be approved by Governor Whitmer, who can remove the point on mask mandates while approving the rest of the budget.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Michigan's 2022 budget will now go to the Governor's desk for final approval.

While much of it has bi-partisan support, there is one point that has health officials frustrated. If the budget is approved as is, mask mandates for people under 18 could no longer be ordered by local health departments.

As for the financial side of things, Governor Gretchen Whitmer is excited about the budget.

"It expands childcare to 105,000 more kids at low or no cost," she said while speaking on Mackinac Island. "We can repair bridges, replace lead service lines, and so much more."

So is Republican state Representative Mark Huizenga.

"I'm feeling really good about it," he says. "We've worked very hard, budgets always seem to take longer than you think, but are always more complicated than you think."

In Kent County, Huizenga says money will be coming to help with infrastructure, like roads and dams, as well as several other areas of need for the county.

As for the point on mask mandates, Marcia Mansaray with the Ottawa County Health Department feels disappointed.

"After 18 months trying with every bit of integrity, you have to make the very best decisions that you have for your community that you live in and love, and know by name so many people, it feels a bit like a gut punch, you know?" she says.

Mansaray hopes Gov. Whitmer won't let that line in the budget pass, calling masks in schools important.

"There's another group within that group that are ineligible for the vaccination," Mansaray points out.

Huizenga, however, says masks should be left to the decision of parents and the individual school boards.

"When you see a school board, that's your local jurisdiction, they should be responsible for that," says Huizenga.

Mansaray says because of the vaccine age limit, that isn't possible for everyone.

"Their parents don't have a choice to make," she says.

In the end, she hopes all sides will come together on an agreeable solution.

"I think we just have to keep focusing on 'lets not fight each other,' we have a common virus," says Mansaray. "That's our enemy here."

Huizenga says he doesn't believe the mask mandate portion of the budget will pass Governor Whitmer's desk. She has the ability to remove it while passing the rest of the budget using the line item veto.

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