DETROIT, Mich. — In Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s fourth State of the State address, she acknowledged the challenges many Michiganders are facing, while also painting an optimistic picture of Michigan’s future, saying, “The state of our state is strong.”
It was at Detroit Diesel in front of a row of electric vehicles Wednesday where Governor Whitmer delivered her address virtually for the second straight year. Whitmer opened her remarks by remembering the victims of the Oxford High School shooting and the Michiganders who lost their lives to COVID-19.
When it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, the governor didn’t lay out any specific plans for tackling the latest surge in cases, but thanked the healthcare workers on the frontlines.
SEE MORE: Governor Whitmer delivers fourth State of the State address
“2021 wasn't as miraculous as any of us wanted. We have made progress or stronger in large part thanks to science and life-saving vaccines. We've come a long way and I'm encouraged about the path ahead,” said Whitmer.
The governor acknowledged the challenges most Michiganders are facing, like the pandemic, inflation and rising healthcare costs, but also highlighted the improvements the state made over the past year, despite those challenges.
Optimism was a theme throughout the governor’s 27-minute address, as she preached the importance of unity and highlighted the bipartisan work in Lansing that led to record funding for K–12 education, hundreds of millions of dollars in relief money for small businesses and the economic development fund that helped land a historic investment from General Motors.
“We've all been through a lot. It's rational to feel frustrated or exhausted or even cynical. Fortunately, the cure for cynicism is competence. These bipartisan accomplishments are a testament to what we can do together. We must believe that better things are possible, because that's the only way they ever get done,” Whitmer said.
As for what she wants to get done in 2022, the governor says she's going to propose another huge increase to the school-aid budget and tackle other priorities, including:
- Repealing the "retirement or pension tax."
- Increasing Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income families.
- Capping insulin costs at $50.
- Expanding access to mental health resources.
- Establish a $2,500 rebate for people who buy electric vehicles.
The latter has already gotten pushback from Republican state lawmakers who also say her proposal to cut taxes doesn’t go far enough.
“All people across our state need tax relief right now. We're sitting on over $3 billion of money we weren't expecting this year and so I think we need to take a measured and realistic look at giving broad tax relief to all Michigan families, Michigan seniors, and small businesses throughout our region, not picking and choosing campaign supporters to give tax cuts to,” State Rep. Matt Hall (R–Marshall) said in an interview with FOX 17.
That debate will surely continue in Lansing, but in the meantime the governor left residents with this message, a hopeful outlook for the year to come.
“The question we have to ask ourselves is: Do we believe in Michigan? I know I do. I believe because of you. I will work hard every day to put Michiganders first."
This SOTS address was Whitmer’s fourth and final of her term. There is of course an election coming up and Whitmer is running for a second term, and her messaging was evident of that at times, clearly addressing some of the things Republicans have come at her for, including inflation and schooling.
The governor addressed the latter head-on, saying, “Let me be crystal clear: students belong in school."
The Michigan Republican Party blasted the address in a statement.“The state of our state is fragile and the blame falls solely on Gretchen Whitmer,” said Gustavo Portela, MIGOP communications director. “Our economic development strategy is dysfunctional at best and our unemployment remains the highest in the Midwest. We need to return to sensible policies that help open our schools and keep our students in the classroom learning; we need to compete to bring jobs here not push them out of our state and we need a Governor who will give our working class the relief they need with a real tax cut."
READ MORE: State and local leaders react to State of the State address