Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says there are two major crises Michigan must confront now -- aging infrastructure and a lagging education system -- or else it will become a tougher place to live, work and run a business.
The Democrat, delivering her first State of the State address Tuesday night, pointed to deteriorating roads, contaminated drinking water and the worst decline in childhood literacy among states measured every year since 2014.
She says "generations of leadership" have failed Michigan schoolchildren. She adds that just 18 percent of roads are in "good condition."
Detailed proposals will likely wait until Whitmer proposes her initial budget to lawmakers in March.
Whitmer proposes tuition assistance for HS grads
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is proposing a scholarship program that would provide college tuition assistance to many Michigan high school graduates.
The Michigan Opportunity Scholarship was unveiled in her State of the State speech Tuesday night. It would give graduates two years of tuition-free education at a community college or cover tuition for the first two for students attending a four-year college.
Students going to a four-year college would not qualify if their household income is above $80,000 or they do not have a 3.0 GPA. Whitmer also wants to help older adults with tuition if they are seeking an in-demand job in a second career.
Michigan Republican Party Chairman Ron Weiser released the following statement:
“During the ‘Lost Decade,’ Michigan learned the hard way that we can’t spend our way to prosperity. Due to the poor economic decisions of a previous Democrat Governor, Michigan’s unemployment rate led the nation and tens of thousands fled our state to find opportunity elsewhere. Tonight, Governor Whitmer pledged her administration to the same failed agenda: laying out billions in new government spending without any plan to pay for it. These pie in the sky ideas will result in higher taxes, smaller paychecks, and cost of living increases for Michigan families.
As for details on her plan to fix the 'damn roads,' the Governor was silent, proving there is no real plan behind the catchphrase. New Democrat Governor, same failed Democrat agenda.”
Rep. John Cherry (D-Flint) released the following statement:
“I was glad to hear that the Governor is focusing on our water safety and infrastructure. Public health is not a partisan issue. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to see that we accomplish our goals for a better, stronger Michigan and protecting the residents of Genesee County from contaminated water supplies, whether that contamination be PFAS or lead.”
The Agricultural Leaders of Michigan released the following response:
“Critical infrastructure, like rail, roads and bridges, and water, utilities, broadband and even waste water treatment are essential to Michigan’s agriculture industry. We applaud Gov. Whitmer for putting infrastructure at the top of her administration’s priority list for 2019 and beyond. A thriving agriculture industry depends on up-to-date infrastructure, and we look forward to working with the Governor, state agencies and key stakeholders to fix our roads and improve every facet of Michigan’s aging infrastructure.”
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas (R-Midland) released the following statement:
“We have achieved much over the last eight years to make Michigan better — turning around a decade of decline, helping create more than half a million Michigan jobs, and reducing our unemployment to its lowest point since 2000.
We need to work together to build on that record of success and improve our state for families, workers and job creators.
Fixing the roads, protecting our water, preparing our students for success, reducing the cost of car insurance, and enhancing government efficiency and accountability are all critical parts to continuing Michigan’s comeback.
I look forward to seeing the governor’s budget recommendation in March and working with her to invest in these priorities while also growing our economy, increasing opportunity and keeping Michigan working.”
Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint) released the following statement:
“There’s no doubt that many of the issues facing our state are urgent and challenging. Tonight, Governor Whitmer showed real leadership on the problems Michigan families need addressed, like cleaning up our water, improving access to education, and of course, fixing our crumbling roads.
For her clear vision to become a reality, it will require everyone to be willing to work across the aisle and across chambers to get the job done. I am on board and will encourage all of my colleagues to collaborate and compromise in the name of progress.”