Gov. Whitmer urges Michigan residents to be "impatient" in 2020
Governor Gretchen Whitmer delivered her second State of the State Address on Wednesday, Jan. 29. to a joint conference of the Michigan Legislature.
She started out her speech by making note that this year she wanted the focus to be on her speech and not what she was wearing.
"I must say, everyone, is looking fantastic tonight. But, this year, I want to get one thing straight: this is not the red carpet," Whitmer said.
The governor began by talking about the condition of Michigan's roads. She introduced 13-year-old Monte Scott, of Muskegon Heights, who took action in his neighborhood and began filling in potholes along with his mother.
She said Scott's generation is a generation of doers.
"They inspire me. And we, the adults in charge, should do everything we can to build a better future for them," Whitmer said.
Whitmer then highlighted the progress her administration has made in the last six months including bringing down the cost of auto insurance, launching redistricting efforts, combatting the opioid crisis and working on Michigan's water quality.
In addition, the Governor also touched on her administration's criminal justice reforms such as her new law, which will raise the age of juvenile offenders from 17 to 18.
The Governor touched on three main topics in her address: roads, education, and health care.
Governor Whitmer said that Michigan families pay more than $600 a year in car repairs.
"That’s money that could go into your child care budget, or your retirement fund, or rent," Whitmer said.
In order to fix Michigan roads, she said it's time for Plan B, which she is calling Executive Action.
"Tomorrow, I will ask the State Transportation Commission to issue state road bonds, so we can start fixing the roads now," Governor Whitmer said.
The Governor said her administration can add and expand 122 major new projects and "nearly double the amount available to fix roads over the next 5 years than if we wait," Whitmer said.
"But let me be clear: these new projects will only address the worst of our most highly traveled state roads. We still need the legislature to come up with a real, long-term solution to fix the roads," Governor Whitmer said. "So next time you’re driving down your local street and hit a pothole or see a bridge closed—call up the Republican leaders in the legislature and encourage them to act."
The Governor then quickly touched on Michigan's economy. She said her administration has created nearly 11,000 new auto jobs, which is 5 times more than the previous year and said that it is the most ever announced in a single year in the history of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
The governor than transitioned her speech to focus on Michigan's education.
She said Michigan ranks in the bottom 10 states for overall literacy. She said her administration is working to make pre-k universal for kids living in districts where test scores are low or poverty is high. She said her administration is also providing better access to child care for parents who are in school or who work full time.
Governor Whitmer said her administration has partnered with Community Foundation of Greater Flint, the Skillman Foundation, the Battle Creek Community Foundation, and others to help families navigate the Third Grade Reading Laws signed by former Governor Rick Snyder.
"This punitive law could be a nightmare for families, and this initiative will give parents and students the resources and support they need to get through it," Whitmer said.
In addition, Whitmer said she wanted to focus more on equitable funding for Michigan schools.
"The one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. Any teacher can tell you, every student has potential, but their needs are often different," Whitmer said. "Equitable funding is essential to meeting the needs of our at-risk students and students with special needs. Ensuring that every child gets the skills to graduate and succeed in our workforce.
Governor Whitmer then focused her address on her final topic: Michigan's healthcare.
She said in the coming months, her administration will create a task force that will focus on prescription drug transparency and lowering costs. She also said her administration will be working on ensuring a safe and healthy environment for all new moms, especially moms of color.
Whitmer said her budget in 2020 will extend health coverage for low-income women who've had babies. She also said her administration will extend postpartum care from 60 days to one full year. She also said her administration will increase access to treatment for substance addiction and mental health services geared toward mothers.
In addition to that, she said her administration will allow women to choose a birth control method that works best for them.
"A novel idea, I know – we’re going to ask a woman what she wants, ensure she can get it in one visit, and provide coverage for it," Whitmer said.
Whitmer wrapped up her address by letting Michigan residents know that "impatience is a virtue."
"In 2020, in Michigan, we can afford to be a little impatient. We need to be a little impatient," Whitmer said.
Whitmer told residents the time has come to fight for Michigan kids.
"The people of Michigan are on the move. And it’s time for Lansing to catch up. It’s time for action. Let’s get to work. Let’s move some dirt," Whitmer said.
The speech ended shortly before 8 p.m.
You can read the full transcript of Governor Whitmer's speech, by clicking on the right of this article.