Detroit Regional Chamber > Media Coverage > Whitmer Talks State of the State Highlights, Emphasizes Investments For All

Whitmer Talks State of the State Highlights, Emphasizes Investments For All

February 14, 2023

Feb. 13, 2023
Alyssa McMurtry

DETROIT – Governor Gretchen Whitmer at Detroit’s MotorCity Casino highlighted her State of the State address with the Detroit Regional Chamber on Monday, discussing how the budget is targeted toward every Michigander regardless of age.

Ms. Whitmer outlined the state’s achievements during the past year and the current legislative term, including the House and Senate fiscal agencies announcing the state had a $9.2 billion surplus, the $1 billion supplemental that allocates $150 million for affordable housing and multi-million dollar investments from auto companies such as Ford Motor Company and General Motors.

Ms. Whitmer said the goal of 2023 is to put money back in people’s pockets and help lower their living expenses.

“We can ensure every child has got an opportunity and a great public education setting. We can build more housing and advance projects that are turning old factories into commercial and residential spaces,” Ms. Whitmer said. “We can help tens of thousands more Michiganders get the skills and education they need to land the good paying jobs that are growing in Michigan. … And we can compete with anyone because that’s what Michiganders do.”

Dan Loepp, president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, acted as a moderator during a pre-vetted question and answer session. He told the governor he thought the budget was multi-generational, catering to three different generations. Mr. Loepp asked how this budget would make the state more competitive.

“I think every employer in this room, every person in this room, is thinking about how we make sure that Michigan’s competitive and how we attract talent into Michigan and keep talent here,” Ms. Whitmer said.

The governor shared that one of her daughters is a lesbian and she wants her to live in a state where she can be her true self and has full protections and rights under the law. The Senate Civil Rights, Judiciary and Public Safety Committee recently reported SB 4, which would expand the Elliott-Larsen Civil Right Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity or expression as a protected class.

Ms. Whitmer spoke briefly about Ford Motor Company’s $3.5 billion for a new electric vehicle factory in Marshall, Michigan. The Michigan Strategic Fund board recommended the state allocate $210 million from the Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve fund (see separate story).

The SOAR fund has been somewhat controversial, with some Republicans calling it a slush fund for multi-billion-dollar companies. It was created under the GOP-led Legislature last term.

“We don’t have a lock on the future of mobility, we have to compete, and we have to win,” Ms. Whitmer said. “Economic development was not my forte before I became governor and now that I’m in a position where I see what we are up against, I see what other states are offering, Michigan is one of only two states of the country that can’t throw cash at a company.

The governor said Michigan can instead have “great partnerships, we can have sites that are ready.”

Mr. Loepp asked Ms. Whitmer about affordable health care, mentioning that both she and President Joe Biden discussed it during the State of the State and State of the Union address, respectively.

“We’re just trying to make sure that every person can improve the quality of their health through greater access to the medicines that they need to live,” Ms. Whitmer said. “We are not the healthiest state in the nation, and we’ve got work to do and whether it’s education or accessibility or ensuring that there’s equitable opportunity … for jobs and for income, all of these things are related.”

When asked about the big investments the budget plans to make, Ms. Whitmer said the dollars can be used to make improvement over time, helping businesses of all sizes across the state.