Whitmer holds annual State of the State Address


Courtesy / WOOD TV

Grace Smith, Staff Writer

On Jan. 25, Governor Gretchen Whitmer delivered the annual State of the State Address to a joint session of the Michigan Legislature. Whitmer’s address defined what her administration’s focus will be in the year ahead. 

Win addition to looking forward, Whitmer addressed weaknesses the state faced in the past year. Some of the issues addressed included inflation, education, economic growth, social issues, gun control and climate change. Michiganders on both sides of the aisle agreed that if policies and actions happen, it could mean changes for the future of the state. 

The first topic Whitmer touched on was the economic power of Michigan within the last year, coupled with the financial hardships many Michiganders found themselves facing. In order to address such issues, Whitmer proposed “Lowering MI Costs.” 

The new legislation consists of three parts: a reduction in retirement tax, an increase in Working Families Tax Credit (formally known as EITC) and initiating Pre-K for All, an expansion on the Great Start Readiness Program. Whitmer said bringing money back into households could serve as a means to reduce inflation. 

Secondly, Whitmer introduced “Make it in Michigan,” a sustainable fund aimed at improving Michigan’s economic growth and employment opportunities. As many Michigan cities have experienced economic downfall as a result of industrial decentralization, the new bill centers itself at increasing the job market and supporting local economies by increasing manufacturing opportunities. 

“Hustling for more projects is a solid first step, but building a strong economy is a marathon, not a sprint,” Whitmer said during the address. 

Whitmer said she plans on supporting “Make it in Michigan” by continuing educational programs such as 60 by 30, Michigan Achievement Scholarship and Michigan Reconnect, while continuing funding for apprenticeships and initiatives. She also urged bi-partisan support of “MI Kids Back on Track” to address consequences of disrupted classroom time during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Whitmer also touched on hot button social issues such as repealing the 1931 Law banning abortion and expanding upon Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, which prevents individuals from being fired or evicted due to their self-identification. Whitmer is hopeful that such initiatives will retain Michigan talent, saying “bigotry is bad for business.”

Whitmer addressed how the Michigan government could ease concerns about public safety and gun violence. She introduced Operation Safe Neighborhoods, an initiative aimed at removing illegal firearms from the streets. She also called for universal background checks for firearm purchase and safe storage laws. Whitmer also pushed for extreme risk protection orders, also known as red flag laws, which prevent firearms from reaching those who may be dangerous to themselves and others. 

Finally, Whitmer shared plans for Michigan’s infrastructure and climate change prevention. To accomplish this, she emphasized the importance of the work of the Michigan Infrastructure Office in order to “keep fixing the damn roads” and improve other areas of infrastructure.  Whitmer also said she plans to continue MI Healthy Climate plan which works to protect Michigan’s air, water, land and environment and manage resources. 

Some Michiganders, especially democrats, look favorably to the policies Whitmer outlined. Jacob Welch, President of GVSU’s College Democrats Club said he is in favor of next year’s political budget. Welch said he sees Whitmer’s plan as a means of progress for the state. 

“We’re seeing outdated policies updated with a strong blue majority, and we’re seeing the legislature get stuff done – which is what we elect them to do,” Welch said. “The future is very bright for Michigan, and under the leadership of the Governor we’re seeing bi-partisan solutions to the problems impacting Michiganders.”

However, some republicans felt that the speech did not completely reach common ground. Zachary Schmidt, College Republicans Vice Chair said Whitmer had some important points within the address, but also areas of concern. 

“The speech can be split into two halves, the first half was solid and focused on bi-partisan solutions to problems families are facing in Michigan,” Schmidt said. “The second half of the speech was divisive and focused on controversial social issues that only divide Michiganders. We hope the governor focuses on finding bi-partisan solutions to real problems Michiganders face and stops attacking Michiganders’ core Constitutional rights.”