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Whitmer to deliver sixth State of the State address

Rick Pluta
Governor Gretchen Whitmer is expected to touch on housing and economic development issues in her sixth State of the State address.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer will deliver her sixth State of the State address Wednesday night to a joint session of the Michigan Legislature.

Published reports say Whitmer’s plans include pushing more than $1 billion into affordable housing, creating a tax credit for family caregivers, and free community college for high school graduates.

Setting those progressive priorities would be good, but not surprising, news to Representative Kristian Grant (D-Grand Rapids), who sits on the House Economic Development and Small Business Committee.

“The things that I’d be interested about are housing and economic development and she’s shown to be in that path, so I hope to hear more,” she told Michigan Public Radio.

“How we can really make sure that Michigan is a place where everyone has access to housing,” she said. “Growing the population, right? Like, she wrote out some really good plans last year. Want to hear more about that. Attracting and retaining businesses, and then how does education tie in?”

The Democrats’ margins are tight in the House and the Senate. The House, while still under Democratic control, is in a temporary 54-54 tie with elections pending to fill two vacancies. The Senate operates under a tight 20-18 Democratic majority.

With margins like that, it will probably take Republican support to get at least some of that done. And Republicans say they are ready to push back.

“She hasn’t solved the big problems on infrastructure, hasn’t solved the big problems on education, hasn’t solved the big problems in trying to make Michigan competitive to attract young families,” said Senate Minority Leader Aric Nesbitt (R-Porter Twp.), who told Michigan Public Radio he would like to see reduced taxes, school accountability and plans to make energy more affordable.

Nesbitt said Democrats squandered a $9 billion surplus last year that could have been used to cut taxes and do more to improve roads.

Republicans will also get to have their say following the speech with an official GOP response broadcast on radio, TV and streamed online.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network.