Governor Gretchen Whitmer covers future goals for 2020 in the state of the state address


Nick Meyle, Staff Writer

As per annual tradition, Governor Gretchen Whitmer gave the official State of the State Address on Tuesday, highlighting what her administration has done in the past year, as well as what the plans are going forward in 2020. Lawmakers, judges, generals, and special guests from across the state attended the event, with local news stations broadcasting the speech for viewers at home. Held in the House Chamber of the State Capitol Building, both the floor and galleries were full.

While shorter than usual, a wide variety of topics were brought up by Governor Whitmer in the roughly 40-minute address. Education, which has been a focus of criticism in the state over the past decade, was a key aspect brought up. Citing the state’s low rank with overall literacy, Whitmer stated her goal of making pre-k a universal thing for kids in high-poverty districts. Also brought up was how the number of literacy coaches in Michigan has already tripled, and that this, in turn, should help communities identify struggling readers and learners. 

Post-secondary education, which includes colleges and trade schools, received attention as well. A bipartisan measure, Whitmer reiterated her endorsement of the Michigan Reconnect plan. The plan would provide skills training and degree programs tuition-free. If passed, it would advance the goal already set, which is to have 60% of Michiganders obtain some sort of credential after high school.

In addition to education, a few more key points were spoken about as well. Within the field of healthcare, the Governor pressed the Congress to pass legislation that would protect Michiganders with pre-existing conditions from being denied health coverage, in the event that the Federal Government or a court were to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Possibly the most signature topic of the night was the roads. Michigan has some of the worst-rated roads in the entire United States, and fixing them has been a pillar of state politics over recent years. Due to a political fight over how to do that, resulting in a near government shutdown over the Governor’s proposed 45 cent gas tax increase, Whitmer told the Legislature during the address that she would be asking the State Transportation Board for bonds to fix state road, something that doesn’t require Congressional approval. These bonds would then be paid back over time with interest.

Reaction to the State of the State was mixed, mostly among partisan lines. Democrats applauded Governor Whitmer for her work and ideas, while Republicans deemed them fiscally wrong or irresponsible. Overall, however, the address continued its tradition of showcasing unity in government, giving folks from across the state hope that in this politically polarized country, there can be positive collaboration.




Photo Credits: Courtesy of Bridge Magazine