Detroit Regional Chamber > Advocacy > From Infrastructure to the EITC: The State of the State Breakdown

From Infrastructure to the EITC: The State of the State Breakdown

January 27, 2023

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s State of the State address touched on several long-time Detroit Regional Chamber priorities, including economic development, postsecondary education, and Michigan’s infrastructure.

The biggest question will be how the Legislature decides to spend its projected $9.2 billion surplus, and how that impacts Michigan’s long-term fiscal standing and business climate. Efforts to move Michigan forward should be pragmatic and bipartisan to protect and build on the progress of the previous decade.

The Chamber will take a deeper dive on these issues when it hosts the Governor for its annual State of the State Address to the Business Community on Feb. 13.

Creating Sustainable Funding for Economic Development

The Governor highlighted successful business development efforts through the Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve Fund (SOAR).

Chamber Perspective: SOAR is well worth the investment.


Michigan has long lacked a well-funded, long-term economic development strategy to attract other jobs from other states, as Chamber President and Chief Executive Officer Sandy K. Baruah told Paul W. Smith. However, there’s been recent momentum, which needs to continue.


Since its creation in December 2021, SOAR has helped attract transformational projects needed to maintain Michigan’s automotive and mobility leadership. Creating a permanent funding mechanism and long-term strategic plan for tools like SOAR is essential to Michigan’s competitiveness.

Lowering Michigan Reconnect Eligibility Age to 21

The Governor proposed lowering the eligibility age for Michigan Reconnect to 21 years old, allowing more adults a tuition-free path to pursue an associate degree or skills certificate at any of Michigan’s public community colleges. She also proposed continuing the Michigan Achievement Scholarship.

Chamber Perspective: Removing barriers to postsecondary education is critical to economic growth and labor challenges.


Employers are experiencing a devastating labor shortage. Programs like Michigan Reconnect and the Michigan Achievement Scholarship, both supported by the Chamber, help more Michiganders attain postsecondary credentials and degrees to fill high-demand jobs. Both programs will strengthen Michigan’s workforce and help reach the Chamber’s goal of 60% educational attainment by 2030, which has since been adopted by the State, and cutting the racial equity attainment gap in half.

Providing Relief to Michiganders by Expanding the EITC

The Governor touted expanding the Working Families Tax Credit, more widely known as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

Chamber Perspective: Expanding the EITC is an effective, fair way to provide tax relief without creating undue burdens on business.


The EITC is a refundable tax credit for low- to moderate-income working individuals and couples. Michigan’s EITC supports working families earning up to a maximum of $57,000 a year – and expanding it would help 750,000 qualified families and nearly one million children.


The Chamber believes the EITC, which the Governor calls the Working Families Tax Credit, is the simplest and fairest way to provide relief to Michigan families. The EITC is a bipartisan concept previously championed by President Ronald Reagan and is proven to increase employment, expand local economies, and aid small businesses. The Chamber recently testified in support of its expansion.

Expanding Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act Protections in the Workplace

In order to help Michigan attract and retain talent, the Governor proposed expanding the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to protect sexual orientation and gender identity.

Chamber Perspective: Taking steps to ensure a diverse, inclusive workforce is good for business.


Updating the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act is a long-time Chamber priority. Attracting and retaining a highly skilled, diverse workforce is critical to our economy and requires going beyond offering competitive wages and benefits.


The Chamber recently joined statewide business leaders in support of the expansion and continues to encourage lawmakers to take into account the impact of social policies on the workforce, particularly for residents under the age of 40.


In December 2022, 59.6% of Michigan voters said they’d consider a state’s social positions before accepting a job there.

Investing in Infrastructure

The Governor touched on continued investment in infrastructure including roads, high-speed internet, clean energy, and lead-free pipes – but did not go into great detail.

Chamber Perspective: Continued investment in infrastructure is needed.


Michigan’s infrastructure crisis is decades in the making, but we have the opportunity to continue building 21st century infrastructure. There’s been progress under both Gov. Snyder and Gov. Whitmer and there’s a short-term budget surplus, but that shouldn’t distract from the fact that there are tough budget decisions to be made and infrastructure investment needs to remain at the top of the list for years to come.

Read the Chamber’s 2023 legislative priorities.


Right to Work Repeal, Preserving Snyder Era Gains

Efforts to repeal the Right to Work law is something the Chamber is closely monitoring. Maintaining the Snyder era gains in business climate and overall competitiveness are critical as lawmakers set policy.

The Importance of Maintaining a Centrist Agenda

The Chamber encourages the Legislature and Governor’s office to pursue a centrist bipartisan agenda that allows business to continue to create jobs and opportunities for residents. Michigan voters agree.

Plan to Spend Down Michigan’s Projected $9.2B Surplus

The Chamber is working closely in Lansing to bring the business voice to how Michigan’s projected surplus can best be used to create a more prosperous state.