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Resolving state’s $2.2 billion FY 2020 budget shortfall

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The state has faced unprecedented budgetary pressures this year due to the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent loss of jobs and economic downturn. By working together with the state House and the governor’s office, we were able to come to an agreement that prioritized critical areas of funding and solved the massive deficit. The governor recently signed Senate Bill 373 and House Bill 5265 into law.

I was proud to support the bipartisan budget plan to solve our $2.2 billion budget shortfall through spending cuts, hiring freezes and using a portion of the state’s “rainy day fund.” The actions also direct federal COVID-19 relief funds to education and vital services that were hit hardest by the virus.

While we have not seen eye-to-eye with the governor on many issues over the last several months, I am proud that we were able to come together on a bipartisan solution to help balance this historic mid-year deficit, all without raises taxes. These were not easy decisions to make, but by working together we were able to get it done.

Mental problems and substance abuse on the rise – help is available

Thankfully, many of the numbers related to coronavirus – cases, hospitalizations and deaths – have been trending downward since the virus’ peak in our state. However, other numbers associated with the crisis are going in the wrong direction.

According to experts, the increased isolation, unemployment and anxiety associated with the outbreak and economic downturn contribute directly to a spike in mental health problems and substance abuse.

Last fall, Michigan experienced its first decline in opioid-related deaths in six years. But from April to June of 2020, EMS calls for opioid overdoses jumped by 26%. As people seek to cope, alcohol and marijuana sales have drastically increased as well.

Those who typically receive mental health or substance abuse assistance may have found in-person services limited or unavailable during the shutdown. However, help is available. If you, a loved one or a friend need assistance during this difficult time, please visit for a full list of services.

Where’s my tax refund?

Now that the delayed income tax deadline has come and gone, are you waiting for a refund from the state of Michigan?

You can check the status of your refund by visiting this site. You’ll need your social security number, filing status, the appropriate tax year and your Adjusted Gross Income or Total Household Resources.

Free ORV Weekend is Aug. 15-16

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Off-road enthusiasts can take advantage of the second Free ORV Weekend of the year on Aug. 15-16. Michigan residents and out-of-state visitors can ride DNR-designated routes and trails, including the state’s five scramble areas, without an ORV license or trail permit. All other ORV rules and laws still apply and the Recreation Passport is required where applicable.

Michigan’s large public ORV trail system covers nearly 3,700 miles of trails and routes through the state. For more information, including ORV trail maps and a link to the Michigan ORV Handbook, visit

Be mindful of high water, beach warnings

Time on the water with family and friends is one of the best things about the Great Lakes State, but safety must come first. Fluctuating water levels can put even the strongest swimmers in danger, conceal hazards like fallen tree limbs or rocks and make it difficult to navigate under low-hanging objects or around logjams.

It’s important to understand the risks of high-water areas, pay attention to the beach-flag warnings and always wear a life jacket during any water activity. Click here for more information on how to stay safe while out on the water.

August is “Tree Check Month”

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August is the best time of the year to spot the signs of the Asian longhorned beetle, an invasive pest that can damage many common deciduous trees, such as maples, birch, willow and others.

The Department of Natural Resources encourages homeowners to look for signs of damage, including dime-sized, round beetle exit holes in the trunk or branches, shallow chew marks in the bark, sawdust-like material at the base of the tree and large (one inch to one-and-a-half inches long) shiny black beetles with white spots and white striped antennae. The beetles have invaded areas of Ohio, New York and other states, requiring the removal of over 180,000 trees. The pest is on Michigan’s invasive species watch list as it poses a potential threat to the state's economy and environment.

For more information on the invasive pest and how you can help prevent widespread damage, click here.


Michigan's 14th Senate District

In Genesee County, the 14th Senate District includes the cities of Davison, Fenton and Grand Blanc as well as Atlas, Davison, Grand Blanc and Mundy townships.

In Oakland County, the district includes the cities of Fenton and Lake Angelus as well as Brandon, Groveland, Highland, Holly, Rose, Springfield and Waterford townships.

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Thank you for subscribing to my electronic newsletter! I am honored to represent you in the state Senate. As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. Please feel free to forward this on to others who may be interested in receiving the 14th District E-news. You may sign up for it also at my website.

Senator Ruth Johnson
7300 Connie B. Binsfeld Office Building
P.O. Box 30036
Lansing, MI 48909-7536

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