Governor Gretchen Whitmer gave the annual State of State address Wednesday night. This speech serves as a compass for the upcoming year’s agenda by stating the previous year's accomplishments and sharing her future legislative priorities.
Whitmer began her address by thanking congressional members for their work combating natural hair discrimination and advocating for LGBTQ+ rights in the past year.
Whitmer also acknowledged the Michigan School Meals program, which provided two free meals daily to K-12 students in Michigan's public schools.
“For every sweet child of ours in Michigan, we made school breakfast and lunch free,” Whitmer said. “All 1.4 million public school students get two meals a day so they can focus on learning.”
She said that she looks forward to Michigan's future as she delved into what her office plans to accomplish in the year to come.
Whitmer said that the challenge of rising inflation is a nationwide issue. She said that her office sought to alleviate financial burdens within its area of control: eliminating the retirement tax, making school meals free and granting scholarships to make higher education more accessible for the typical Michigan family.
'MI Vehicle Rebate' is one of Whitmer’s most recent cost-of-living-focused legislative endeavors. Allying with the United Auto Workers (UAW) and the Big Three, this initiative aims to invigorate vehicle consumption in Michigan by reducing costs for electric, hybrid, and traditional combustion vehicles.
“With ‘MI Vehicle Rebate’, we can lower costs and support the ongoing transition to an all-electric, union-made future,” Whitmer said.
Whitmer said that the rent in Michigan is excessively high and housing is insufficient, and advocates the solution: "build, baby, build."
In response to the rising demand, Whitmer commissioned the first-ever statewide housing plan, targeting the creation or refurbishment of 75,000 living units. She said that this plan not only supports families but also stimulates job growth and the Michigan economy.
Whitmer said that the lack of affordable housing forces families across the state to struggle in their day-to-day lives, and without stability at home, focus at work and school are unable to move forward.
She said that she plans to institute a caregiver tax credit that will provide those caring for sick or elderly relatives with up to a $5,000 reimbursement. The credit attempts to meet the needs of caregivers across the state financially, which disproportionately affects women of color, according to Whitmer.
“We know the burden of caregiving falls disproportionately on women and especially women of color,” Whitmer said. “While the caregiving work they do is often invisible, it is invaluable.”
Education took center stage in the address. Whitmer said that she acknowledges the challenges faced by educators by proposing scholarships for future educators and increased pay for those in the field.
Whitmer's other education goals include providing free tuition for Michigan’s community colleges and increased scholarships for secondary institutions. She said that both endeavors are necessary solutions to the growing unrest seen amongst college students statewide.
She said that Michigan is nurturing the growing workforce by alleviating the taxes start-up businesses face.
Governor Whitmer’s new innovation fund will expand research and incentivize progress in Michigan by investing in high-growth start-ups. This fund will support hundreds of new Michigan-based startups and will create thousands of jobs for Michigan families.
She said that seeks to continue the progress made on Michigan roads. During her speech, she listed a variety of key roads her office plans to improve within the upcoming year and the job opportunities it will provide for families statewide.
Whitmer ended the address by sharing the importance of resiliency and empowerment.
“Every Michigander deserves a classic Michigan story,” Whitmer said. “You work hard, you follow your dreams, and you build a great life. When you get knocked down, you get up again. You keep fighting. That’s what makes us special.”
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