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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer talks infrastructure, education, mental health and acknowledges GRCC in 2022 State of the State address

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Screenshot of State of State Address (Streamed on Michigan.gov)

By Elizabeth Halvorson

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer delivered the 2022 State of the State address virtually on Wednesday, Jan. 26 from Detroit Diesel, an auto manufacturer that produces electric vehicle technology. The speech focused on infrastructure and education and also included a brief mention of Grand Rapids Community College. 

Whitmer began her speech with remembrance of the four high school students who were killed at Oxford High School on Nov. 30, 2021. “The Oxford community is in all of our hearts,” she said.

Whitmer also took the time to recognize healthcare workers, “Right now, healthcare professionals are working hard to keep us safe as Omicron surges. We are stronger, in large part thanks to science and life-saving vaccines.”

Before switching gears, Whitmer stated she wanted to focus on the things that bring Michiganders together. 

“We all want the same things: a good paying job, great schools, clean water, safe communities, thriving small businesses, a chance to get ahead, and hope for our future,” Whitmer said. “It can be hard to see in the moment, but tough times make us stronger.”

Whitmer went on to cover a variety of topics including infrastructure, education investment, taxes, insulin prices, and mental health. 

While on the subject of roads, Whitmer referred back to one of her campaign slogans “Fix the damn roads,” and stated that so far “Michigan has repaired, rebuilt, or rehabbed 13,000 lane miles of road and over 900 miles of bridges.” 

Continuing on to education, Whitmer stated that Michigan has “made the largest education investment in state history without raising taxes” and has seen the “biggest state education funding increase in more than 20 years.” 

Michigan Reconnect and Future for Frontliners initiatives were focused on with a shoutout to GRCC student Jodi Holland. Holland is working toward an associate’s degree in culinary arts with a baking and pastry arts certificate at the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education on GRCC’s downtown campus.

With the pandemic closing schools or forcing students to learn remotely, Whitmer spoke about the importance of keeping students in the classroom. 

“Remote learning is not as fulfilling or conducive to a child’s growth,” said Whitmer before expressing that she and her team will do everything they can to keep kids in the classroom. 

Whitmer also touched on the subject of taxes, the progress the state has already made with repealing the tampon tax, the sales tax on menstrual products, in Nov. 2021. 

“I believe that whenever possible, we should make taxes more fair for our seniors and our working families,” stated Whitmer while promising to strive to repeal the retirement tax and to increase the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit for working families in order to “keep more money in people’s pockets.”

On the subject of ensuring Michiganders retain more of their income, Whitmer highlighted the push to lower the cost of insulin and electric vehicles. 

“In the Michigan Legislature, there have been bipartisan bills introduced to cap the cost of insulin at $50 a month,” said Whitmer before addressing the push to make electric vehicles more financially accessible for Michigan residents by adding a $2,500 electric vehicle rebate which will build on $7,500 federal electric vehicle credit.

Next, Whitmer addressed the importance of mental health services. 

“Mental health is just as important as physical health and I want every person to have access to the healthcare they deserve,” Whitmer said. “Nearly 40% of Michiganders do not get treatment for their mental illness. We will address this shortfall by expanding Michigan’s Loan Repayment Program for mental health professionals and we’ll make a historic investment to recruit more mental health workers.”

When addressing the hardships she has faced as governor, Whitmer said, “I show up for every Michigan family, and on a personal level, I want my girls to see their mom stand her ground and live her values even through unexpected challenges and constant threats. We fight for each other, not with each other. Even on the hardest day, I am grateful to serve my fellow Michiganders.”

Click here to view a recording of the address.

To read more about Whitmer’s plans, click here.