Wednesday’s State of the State was a first on two fronts. When Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the Michigan legislature it was the first time she had done so in person since 2020 due to the pandemic. But it was also the first time in 40 years a Democratic governor addressed a legislature also controlled by Democrats.
In her speech, Whitmer focused on two main policy proposals: immediate tax relief to help Michiganians cope with rising prices and “commonsense” gun safety measures including universal background check requirements for firearms purchases, safe storage standards for gun owners and so-called red flag laws that would allow guns to be taken away from anyone deemed by a judge to be a risk to themselves or others.
Her tax relief package is centered on a proposed cut in taxes on retirement income while also expanding the tax credit for low-wage workers.
Local lawmakers and officials offered their reaction after the speech, with no surprise that Democrats applauded it and Republicans questioned it.
Republican Rep. Ann Bollin of Brighton offered a single social media comment, saying she wanted the governor to commit to keeping an income tax roll-back set to kick in this year.
“I’d like to hear the governor commit to keeping the law intact and support further income tax reductions. Our hard-working families have been crippled due to inflation,” said Bollin.
Senate Republican Leader Aric Nesbitt (R-Porter Township) expressed doubt that Whitmer and Democrats would follow through.
“We’ve heard for months how the governor and Democrats want to lower taxes and provide relief for struggling Michigan families. But actions speak louder than words. Time and again, this governor has vetoed bipartisan proposals to provide real relief for those in need. It is good to see some Democrats joining Senate and House Republicans in the call for immediate relief now for all Michigan families and seniors. We hope the governor will realize that she was wrong and finally be a part of bipartisan efforts to deliver that relief.”
On the Democratic side, Rep. Jennifer Conlin (D-Ann Arbor), whose 48th House District includes Genoa and Hamburg townships, the Village of Pinckney and the southeast corner of Putnam Twp. in Livingston County, expressed optimism that the agenda laid out by Whitmer can be achieved.
“I’m proud to support the governor,” said Rep. Conlin. “She articulated the key priorities that Michiganders share, from safeguarding reproductive rights to promoting gun safety to supporting enhanced educational opportunities for our children and codifying climate protections that will help preserve our treasured natural resources for future generations. I’m excited to get to work, and I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish.”
Also commenting was Livingston County Democratic Party Vice Chair Dan Luria.
“Despite the extreme cynicism and partisanship that infect our politics today, the Governor called herself an optimist, and stated that “The state of our State is strong.” (With an anticipated budget surplus approaching $9 billion, it’s hard to argue with that.) She asked legislators to ignore the “fatalism [that] is in vogue” today and 14 times exhorted them using the phrase “Let’s Get It Done!”
“All in all, it was an effective star turn by a governor who has proven that she can get things done, even when her party didn’t have a majority in the Legislature. Now that it does, Governor Whitmer has a chance to be a transformative figure in the state. With her, we say “Let’s get it done.”