LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – On Wednesday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer gave the first State of the State address in her second term as governor.

Whitmer began her address by highlighting some diversity firsts. Whitmer touted Speaker Joe Tate and Minority Leader Winne Brinks as the first Black speaker and first woman majority leader, respectfully.

She then made a small victory lap, celebrating the Democratic sweep in Michigan’s recent midterms.

“We want the ability to raise a family without breaking the bank. Strong protections for our fundamental rights to: vote and control our own bodies. Leaders who will work across the aisle to solve problems and deliver on the issues that make a real difference in our lives,” she said.

Inflation was the next topic – specifically how it impacts the average Michigander.

“We might not be able to solve inflation or supply chain issues on our own, but we must work together to lower costs and put Michiganders on the path to a brighter future,” she said.

Whitmer said her new proposals aim to benefit three groups of Michiganders:

  • “Folks working hard to care for themselves and support their families.”
  • Young people about to graduate.
  • Michiganders born today.

Her first economic proposal? Rolling back the retirement tax. This would specifically benefit seniors.

“Seniors who served, saved, and did everything right deserve to keep more of what they earned. Let’s get this done,” said Whitmer”

Next, expand the Working Families Tax Credit, which would give $3,000 refunds to 700,000 Michigan families, Whitmer said.

“Data shows boosting the Working Families Tax Credit also closes health and wealth gaps. Children who grow up with this support have better test scores, graduation rates, and earnings as adults.”

Her third proposal: Pre-k for All. Whitmer said this would save families an average of $10,000 a year.

“Every parent knows an early start is critical to their child’s future. It’s why we: read, talk, and sing to our babies, worry about finding a great child care provider, and have wait lists for great preschools.”

Whitmer took this time to give a special shout out to Representative Andrews, who showed up to a Legislative vote just hours after his daughter Violet was born.

“Together, we can lower costs for Michiganders feeling the pain of inflation right now. For our seniors, families, and kids, let’s get this done,” the Governor said.

She then introduced a new program: Make it in Michigan.

“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,” said Whitmer.

Whitmer highlighted the importance of bringing production to Michigan, especially supplying computer chips and energy products tied to national security.

“To quote our great senior Senator Debbie Stabenow, Michigan ‘makes stuff and grows stuff.’ Let’s develop that core strength by manufacturing the building blocks of the future in Michigan.”

Whitmer then unveiled a new goal for the state: having 60% of young Michiganders earn a degree or skills certificate by 2030. She also announced that the State of Michigan would take steps to lower the age for Michigan Reconnect from 25 to 21.

“Reconnect is our bipartisan program that offers anyone 25 and older a tuition-free associate’s degree or skills training. I want to thank Senator Anthony for her work to establish and grow this program. Over 113,000 Reconnectors have been accepted, and we want that number to grow,” said Whitmer.

From the economy to social issues, Whitmer called for the 1931 anti-abortion law to be repealed, as well as now-defunct laws that banned same-sex marriages in Michigan.

She also called for the expansion, of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, which prevents employers and renters from firing or evicting people for their gender or sexual identity.

“I called for this in my first State of the State back in 2019. I want to thank Senator Moss and Representative Hoskins for introducing this bill. It’s about damn time we got it done,” she said. “Bigotry is bad for business… Together, we are going to change Michigan from a state with century-old bans to forward-looking protections… I want you and anyone living in a state that wants to control your body or deny your existence to know that Michigan has a place for you.   “

Whitmer then went on the attack, saying she would go to “any state that restricts people’s freedoms” and bring business back to Michigan.

“I’m looking at you, Ohio and Indiana.”

She then focused on the youngest of Michiganders.

Whitmer called for funding for MI Kids Back on Track. “Our children need more support to master the skills we know they need most,” she said.

On the public safety front, Whitmer applauded Attorney General Dana Nessel’s work. She then called for law enforcement funding for training, oversight, and access to mental health resources.

She also highlighted the threat of guns.

“Firearms are getting more dangerous too, thanks to 3D printed technology called Glock switches that turn semi-automatic weapons fully automatic,” said Whitmer. She then named Operation Safe Neighborhoods, which works to take firearms off the streets.

“The time for only thoughts and prayers is over. It’s time for commonsense action to reduce gun violence in our communities. Let’s enact universal background checks for people who want to buy firearms. Let’s enact safe storage laws so we can make sure firearms are stored safely at home.  And let’s enact extreme risk protection orders, so we can keep guns out of the hands of those who might represent a danger to themselves or others. If Florida and Indiana can get this done, we sure can, right?” Whitmer said.

Whitmer remembered the victims of the Oxford massacre.

“Despite pleas from Oxford families, these issues never even got a hearing in the legislature. This year, let’s change that and work together to stop the violence and save lives… And I want to be very clear—I’m not talking about law-abiding citizens,” said Whitmer.

Her final two topics were infrastructure and climate.

Since taking office, Michigan has repaired 16,000 lane miles of road and 1,200 bridges.

With new smart road technology, we can avert hundreds of crashes and get the next-generation of made-in-Michigan vehicles on the road.  

“We also have billions in federal resources from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law headed our way. To invest them as efficiently as possible, I established the Michigan Infrastructure Office. This year, it will redouble its efforts, helping to build up every kind of infrastructure—roads, high-speed internet, clean energy, and lead-free pipes,” said Whitmer.

On the climate front, Whitmer touted the MI Healthy Climate Plan as well as economic focus on renewable energy.

Finally, Whitmer talked about an “American superpower- belief.”

“Over the last 4 years, we’ve faced historic challenges and seen the visceral consequences of political division. But the prevailing take now seems to be that things will get worse. Fatalism is in vogue as people wonder aloud whether America’s best days are behind her,” said Whitmer.

She recounted a speech given by President Teddy Roosevelt at Michigan Agricultural College, now known as Michigan State University.

“I believe in the happiness that comes from the performance of duty, not the avoidance of duty. But I also believe in trying, each of us, as strength is given us, to bear one another’s burdens,” President Roosevelt said to a crowd of students on May 31, 1907.

“I reject that. We cannot mistake pessimism for intelligence. And we must never forget who we are.”

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