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Whitmer’s State of the State focuses on education, taxes

The governor laid out plans to cut taxes for retirees and families, lower costs on insulin and electric vehicles and expand access to mental health.
Dorothy Hernandez, Russ McNamara
The governor laid out plans to cut taxes for retirees and families, lower costs on insulin and electric vehicles and expand access to mental health.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer laid out her agenda Wednesday night during her State of the State address.

Speaking at Detroit Diesel in Redford Township, Whitmer, who is up for re-election this year, addressed key issues like education, taxes and mental health.

She promised another increase in education funding.

“Soon, I’ll introduce a school aid budget that will mark the biggest state education funding increase in more than 20 years without raising taxes. I want to be crystal clear. Students belong in school. We know it’s where they learn best,” she said.

In next year’s school aid budget, she said she plans to propose funding for school to hire more than 560 nurses, counselors and social workers.

She called for growing the state’s mental health workforce and expanding access to services.

“Nearly 40% of Michiganders do not get treatment for their mental illness. We will address this shortfall by expanding Michigan’s Loan Repayment Program for mental health professionals,” she said.

Whitmer talks tax cuts

With pandemic-related supply chain issues and corporate profits driving inflation to high levels, Whitmer suggested giving some cash back. Michigan has billions in tax revenue and federal money to spend. Some of that will be returned to taxpayers in the form of $400 as car insurance rebates.

Whitmer proposed reinstating the Earned Income Tax Credit.

“Restoring the EITC lifts more than 22,000 people out of working poverty and it sends 730,000 families an average refund of almost $3,000 bucks that they can use to pay the bills,” she said.

Whitmer says she’s planning to work with the state Legislature to enact price caps for insulin.

“Hundreds of thousands of Michiganders need insulin to survive, and the average cost of a single vial is almost 100 bucks,” she said.

“There have been bipartisan bills introduced to cap the cost of insulin at $50 bucks a month. We all agree insulin costs too much and I know we can work together to hold drug companies accountable to lower costs and to save lives.”

She touted this week’s news that General Motors is investing more than $7 billion toward boosting its electric vehicle manufacturing capabilities in Michigan. She proposed a $2,000 rebate for a new electric vehicle and a $500 rebate for at-home charging infrastructure.

“This will build on the $7,500 federal electric vehicle credit,” Whitmer said, “if we can get this done we can lower the cost of electric vehicles by nearly $10,000. We can make it easier for Michiganders to go electric.”

Tax breaks might be an area of common ground with Republicans, who have suggested cutting income taxes for residents and corporations.

Whitmer avoided divisive issues such as gun control or voting rights legislation.

Earlier on Wednesday, Senate Republicans passed a $2 billion tax cut out of committee that largely affects corporations.

Russ McNamara is a reporter and host of All Things Considered for 101.9 WDET, presenting local news to the station’s loyal listeners.
Dorothy Hernandez is Digital Editor for 101.9 WDET, creating and adapting content for digital platforms. Prior to joining WDET, she was managing editor of Model D and editorial director for Issue Media Group. This is not her first stint with WDET; in 2018 she had an opportunity to tell food stories through a partnership between Feet in 2 Worlds and WDET. She is thrilled to be back in the WDET fold.