During Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s fourth and final-term annual State of the State address (which she delivered the second time virtually) on Wednesday, January 26, she optimistically spoke about her unwavering support of the state’s strength and its residents’ strength after dealing with 2021.
She also remembered the over 30,000 Michiganders whose lives were lost to COVID and those who tragically died at the Oxford High School shooting.
“Due to COVID, we are not in the Capitol. Right now, healthcare professionals are working hard to keep us safe as Omicron surges,” Whitmer said. “While 2021 wasn’t as miraculous as any of us wanted, we have made progress. We’re stronger in large part thanks to science and life-saving vaccines. We have come a long way, and I am encouraged about the path ahead.”
Whitmer, who addressed residents on the day the state celebrated its 185th birthday, spoke to a live-streamed audience at Redford’s Detroit Diesel, which was built in 1938 to help Michigan win World War II.
“A lifetime later, it’s home to cutting-edge electric vehicle technology built by the hardworking men and women of UAW Local 163. Places like this are where Michigan’s future will be forged, and I am thrilled to be here,” Whitmer said of delivering the State of the State address.
Whitmer also spoke on the heels of a recent statewide tour where she sat down with Michiganders in their hometowns to discuss policy, priorities, areas to address and more.
In her nearly 30-minute address, she also talked about her support for Michiganders, the end of the pandemic, boosting the economy, and fixing the “damn” roads, again.
From lowering the cost of insulin to repealing the retirement tax and more, Whitmer announced plans on how the state could better jumpstart the economy to help families and business owners in the process. One of her comprehensive policy proposals and plans for Michigan include cutting taxes for working families by tripling the tax credit for working families, which would deliver an average refund of $3,000 to 730,000 Michiganders by increasing Michigan’s Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC.
“Raising the state EITC puts Michiganders first by putting nearly $3,000 back in their pockets when paired with the federal EITC,” said Whitmer in her address. “Michiganders who work full-time but still can’t get ahead deserve to keep more of their hard-earned dollars. As part of the MI New Economy plan, I set an ambitious goal of lifting 100,000 working families out of Poverty. Delivering on this tax cut for working families will pull over 22,000 Michiganders out of working poverty and make significant progress towards that goal while raising incomes for 730,000 workers and benefitting nearly 1 million kids—nearly half the kids in Michigan. This refund for working families is a game-changer for so many Michiganders, and I know we can work together to get this done.”
“As policymakers look for productive, proven solutions to address the financial challenges facing Michigan workers and families, improving the state EITC should be near the top of the list,” said Monique Stanton, President, and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “Increasing the Michigan EITC will directly help nearly 750,000 households make ends meet while getting spent at local businesses on immediate expenses like groceries, clothing and school supplies for kids, car repairs, and more. This one-two punch of economic impact bumps up everyone’s bottom line and benefits every corner of the state.”
Nearly 1 million kids—almost half of the kids in Michigan—would benefit from raising the EITC. It means new backpacks, warmer coats, and more hot meals.
Rations and Retirement
Whitmer also proposed actions to lower the cost of insulin in her State of the State address. Attorney General Dana Nessel is in court looking to launch an investigation into one of the three largest manufacturers of insulin in the U.S. and the legislature, there are bipartisan bills awaiting action that would, among other things, cap the cost of insulin at $50 a month.
“Nearly a million Michiganders need insulin to survive and for too long, drug companies have been skyrocketing prices,” said Whitmer. “I support Attorney General Nessel’s efforts to use the Michigan Consumer Protection Act to put Michiganders first by investigating the role drug companies play in raising prices. I also look forward to working with the legislature to cap the cost of insulin. Too many Michiganders are forced to ration insulin or forgo it, putting their lives at risk.”
“The average out-of-pocket cost of a single vial of insulin is nearing $100,” Nessel said. “No Michigander should have to face that kind of cost for life-saving medicine. While drug companies profit off of people’s health, they also benefit from a current market in which they control the pricing. Enough is enough. … That is why this action will also pursue reconsideration of the rulings in Smith and Liss.”
“The cost of insulin is simply too high for far too many Michiganders,” said Gloria Padilla-Carlson, a retired Physician’s Assistant in Kalamazoo County. “Folks are too often forced to forgo insulin or ration it, which is detrimental to their health and can put their lives at risk.”
Whitmer also proposed a repeal of the retirement tax in her address, which would save half a million households $1,000 a year.
“Repealing the retirement tax will put Michiganders first and save half a million households $1,000 a year,” said Whitmer. “Michiganders who have worked hard, played by the rules, and budgeted for their whole lives should be able to retire and keep all of their hard-earned dollars. Putting money back in the pockets of retirees will help them afford the essentials from prescriptions, rent, utilities, car payments, to gifts for their grandkids.”
“Repealing the retirement tax is long overdue. Putting money back into the pockets of our retirees is welcomed news and removes a tax burden, plus allows Michiganders who worked hard for their money to have more discretionary income to spend on their medication and other needs,” said N. Charles Anderson, President/CEO of the Detroit Urban League.
When it comes to the roads, Whitmer said that in 2021, she reinstated the prevailing wage for state construction contracts.
“That means we will get the best-trained workforce and the best value for our tax dollars,” she said, adding that the state’s infrastructure—from roads to lead pipes to high-speed internet—is largely in the state that it is in due to decades of neglect and underfunding. “That’s why we’re fixing our roads and bridges with the right mix and materials, so they stay fixed. And we’re creating good-paying, skilled trades jobs along the way—the kind you can raise a family on, with solid benefits and a secure retirement.”
Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter said in an email that he applauds Whitmer for putting Michigan families first.
“The forward-looking proposals outlined by Gov. Whitmer during her State of the State address will bring welcome relief to Michigan seniors and families, who still are dealing with a virus that has taken such a toll on our nation and state,” said Coulter. “Her bipartisan work with the Legislature is paying dividends in areas most important to our residents, including education and training, jobs, environmental sustainability, infrastructure, and wellness.”