Whitmer stresses economics, freedoms in address
LANSING — In her fifth State of the State address, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed economic opportunity, workforce development and essential freedoms. Whitmer said her proposals will help working families, young Michiganders about to graduate and Michiganders born today.
During the address, Whitmer also announced the Lowering MI Costs plan to offer immediate relief for Michiganders by rolling back the retirement tax, expand working families’ tax credit and having pre-kindergarten education for all. Whitmer said this plan will help working families find relief.
“With inflation, every dollar saved makes a difference,” Whitmer said during the address. “That’s why we’re moving fast.”
Whitmer said that repealing the retirement tax will make a difference for seniors in Michigan. She expects the retirement tax to save 500,000 households an average of $1,000 a year.
“I fought this tax as a legislator and as governor because I knew it hurt people,” Whitmer said.
Whitmer also said that by boosting the working families tax credit, formerly known as the EITC, it is expected to deliver an average refund of at least $3,000 to 700,000 families.
“As we work together to build a brighter future, we need to lower costs and support every kind of family: those who have kids and those who do not,” Whitmer said. “The WFTC benefits all kinds of families and it directly impacts nearly 1 million children, almost half the kids in Michigan.”
Whitmer said that this will put hundreds of millions of dollars back in family budgets to help with rent, school supplies and food on the table.
When discussing the Lowering MI Costs plan, Whitmer said that the third part of the plan is having pre-K for all. This will save families an average of $10,000 a year compared to current pre-K or child care, according to Whitmer.
“Let’s expand our bipartisan preschool effort, the Great Start Readiness Program, so every 4-year-old in Michigan can access a free, public preschool education by the end of my second term,” Whitmer said.
As for Michiganders who recently graduated from high school or college, Whitmer announced the Make it in Michigan plan to keep this group of people in Michigan and attract more talent to Michigan. By doing this, Whitmer will focus on economic opportunity and personal freedom.
“Make it in Michigan proposes a sustainable funding source for our economic development efforts while growing talent, making our communities better places to live and helping our state become a place where anyone can thrive,” Whitmer said.
Reconnect is a bipartisan program that offers anyone 25 and older a tuition-free associate’s degree or skills training.
As for essential freedoms, Whitmer talked about repealing the 1931 law banning abortion, laws prohibiting people from accessing reproductive health care, outdated laws restricting who people can marry and expanding the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.
“Together, we are going to change Michigan from a state with century-old bans to forward-looking protections,” Whitmer said.
The last group Whitmer addressed were the Michiganders born today and the kids of coming generations. Whitmer said that she will make bold investments in public safety and education to make sure children born today have a safe neighborhood to live in and get a great public education.
Whitmer proposed funding MI Kids Back on Track before spring, investing in tutoring, after-school programs and other learning supports.
“Employers know that today’s students are tomorrow’s workforce and entrepreneurs,” Whitmer said. “We need tutoring to get our kids back on track for Michigan’s long-term economic success.”
Public safety was also addressed at the end of Whitmer’s speech. Last year, Whitmer announced Operation Safe Neighborhood, a program that aims to take illegal guns off the streets.
“The time for only thoughts and prayers is over,” Whitmer said. “It’s time for common-sense action to reduce gun violence in our communities.”
Whitmer proposed enacting universal background checks for people who wish to buy firearms, enact safe storage laws to make sure firearms are stored safely at home and enact extreme risk protection orders to keep guns out of the hands of those who might represent danger to themselves or others.
The last topic discussed before closing the address was infrastructure. Whitmer addressed continuing in her second term to fix more roads and the Michigan Infrastructure Office.
“Last but certainly not least, it is our shared duty to face climate change head on and protect our land and water,” Whitmer said. “We must pursue climate action while creating jobs, lowering costs and becoming a hub of clean energy production.”
Whitmer talked on the unveilment of the MI Healthy Climate Plan last year, proposing this year to make bold investments in climate action to deliver on targets.
“I am honored to be standing here tonight as your governor,” Whitmer said. “I will work with anyone who’s serious about solving problems to move Michigan forward.”
State Rep. Jenn Hill (D-Marquette) issued a statement on Whitmer’s speech. Hill said Whitmer has laid out an exceptional agenda for Michigan.
“Her plan will help ensure that over 110,000 low-income kids get to go to preschool. Mayor Pro Tem Bogater and I have fought tirelessly to make education accessible to every family, no matter their income bracket or ZIP code,” Hill said in her statement. “I was glad to see the governor advancing this and other common-sense priorities that will make a positive impact on Michigan families.”
On the opposite party, Sen. Ed McBroom (R), representing Michigan’s 38th Senate District, said that while there were areas he agreed with, such as investing in infrastructure, careers and skill trades, however, there were other areas that he did not agree with.
“The State is in a particularly amazing and once in a lifetime situation with the budget and investing those dollars wisely and to make sure they’re going to last is something we should all get behind. I certainly have those areas of excitement and share that,” McBroom said. “Meanwhile there are areas of her speech that I find incredibly troubling. Particularly in the celebrating of death and the cognitive dissonance that comes from celebrating people raising families because now they have the option to not raise a family and to kill off their family and that’s just really a troubling cognitive dissonance that I struggle with.”
McBroom continued saying that some of the other areas Whitmer said she wants to invest money in, he does not agree with.
“It seems like we almost have an attitude that all of our problems are gone now because we are spending money,” McBroom said. “Clearly if money was the solution, we wouldn’t have many problems.”
To view the full 2023 State of the State address and to read additional resources related, go online at michigan.gov/whitmer/news/state-of-the-state/2023.
Dreyma Beronja can be reached at 906-228-2500 ext. 248. Their email address is email@example.com.