Detroit Regional Chamber > Mackinac Policy Conference > Fix the Road Ahead: Gov. Whitmer on Michigan’s Path Forward

Fix the Road Ahead: Gov. Whitmer on Michigan’s Path Forward

September 22, 2021

Key Takeaways:

  • Michigan’s economy is making a once-in-a-generation recovery:
    • The unemployment rate is below the national average, down for eight months straight.
    • Personal income was up 19.1%, the fourth-highest in the nation.
    • Projected $3.5 billion surplus.
    • GDP grew 7.6%.
  • A proposed $2.1 billion dollar investment in the MI New Economy seeks to focus on growing the middle class, supporting small businesses, and investing in communities.
  • Gov. Whitmer is set to sign a bipartisan budget that will include $500 for the state’s rainy day fund, fund Michigan Reconnect, expand child care, and more.

Shortly after announcing plans for the Lake Michigan Electric Vehicle Circuit, the nation’s first electrified road to wirelessly charge electric vehicles, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer took Michigan’s Center Stage at the 2021 Mackinac Policy Conference.

Even with significant challenges to surmount and public divide, the state of Michigan is currently poised for a once-in-a-generation recovery, with unemployment below the national average, a rise in personal income, and an influx of federal funds to invest in the state. But, the Governor stressed that overcoming such challenges takes understanding, compassion, and curiosity without judgment.

“Bringing together people, communities, businesses, so we can get things done. It’s that core mission that brought me into the public space in the first place – to serve the state I love and deliver changes that makes a real difference in people’s lives,” said Gov. Whitmer.

Since 2019, the state has:

  • Invested in 15,000 automotive jobs.
  • Created Michigan Reconnect and Futures for Frontliners.
  • Created 150 jobs and brought supply chain from China to Michigan to solve the chip shortage.
  • Invested $17 billion in education.
  • Invested $3.5 billion investment in state roads, bringing an influx of jobs.

Adds Gov. Whitmer, “We all need to tackle these big structural challenges, by growing Michigan’s economy, creating good-paying jobs, and building industries of the future. Together, let’s harness our potential to usher in a new era of prosperity for the state we all love.”

MI New Economy Plan

While the economy has rebounded, there are still large structural challenges that must be tackled. As part of her recently unveiled, MI New Economy plan, the focus will turn to growing the middle class, supporting small businesses, and investing in communities with a proposed $2.1 billion investment.

“I want to work with you, the legislature, and anyone who wants to empower Michigan’s families, communities, and small businesses,” said Gov. Whitmer. “We have an incredible opportunity right now.”

The How: Moving Michigan Forward

Over the last year, the political divide has grown wider as our nation faced the culmination of a variety of issues: political violence, racial reckoning, a recession, disinformation, and more. As the state becomes increasingly divided, listening and compromising becomes increasingly important.

“I’m a firm believer in our democracy itself. I know that despite its faults, it’s worth fighting for. And most of all, I am a believer in people,” Gov. Whitmer said. “Acknowledging the fact that we have so much in common is important because it makes it harder to excuse why we’re so divided.”

Gov. Whitmer stressed that she will work with anyone to get things done for the state of Michigan, to fix the roads and bridges, to improve access to child care, and overall understand voters’ needs.

Happening Now: Bipartisan State Budget

Currently, the legislature is working on passing a bipartisan budget that Gov. Whitmer will sign next week. The budget will:

  • Put $500 million into a rainy-day fund for Michigan.
  • Fund Michigan Reconnect and Futures for Frontliners.
  • Expand child care to 105,000 more children.
  • Repair over 100 bridges.

While passing a bi-partisan budget with a 35-0 vote is historic and will move the needle on core issues that the state needs to address, passing the state budget is only step one. In fact, the state has $3 billion for schools in the general fund and $7 billion in the American Rescue Plan, which is yet to be deployed.

Added Gov. Whitmer, “There is so much opportunity here and that’s why we wanted to work so closely with the business community and stakeholder groups to make sure the economic plan is centered on the things…that really move the needle and set on that path.”

This session was sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.