Gov. Whitmer Calls for Unity in Government During Virtual State of the State
For the third time, Governor Gretchen Whitmer held her State of the State address from the State Capitol in Lansing.
The State of the State is a chance for her to reflect on the year that was and lay out the plan for the year to come.
This address was unlike any before. Instead of a loaded House chamber, it was done virtually with the governor by herself in her office.
“I know you’re used to me saying, ‘fix the damn roads,’” said Whitmer, “This year, let’s also fix the damn road ahead.”
Whitmer didn’t come with any major bombshells in the State of the State but one of the new ideas, the ‘MI Classroom Heroes’ grants for educators.
“Up to $500 each for teachers and support staff,” said Whitmer, “These grants will offset some expenses.”
“Giving basically a bonus to those teachers and support staff for all the hard work and extra hours they’ve done,” said Senator Jim Ananich, Democrat from Flint, “I think it’s the very least we can do.”
But agreeing on a plan like this will take unity.
“It’s something we’re going to have to work on and continue move forward on,” said Senator Curt VanderWall, Republican from Ludington.
“We’re going to leverage all the resources and state government to rebuild our economy back better,” Said Whitmer.
Unity has been the issue. Democrats say the Republicans are too strict on their demands, while the GOP say they rarely are even involved in the final decisions.
“The tone was very ‘reach across the aisle,’” said Ananich, “ It was very ‘let’s work together.’ I think her actions have shown that but you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink.”
“These are not all bad ideas,” said Representative Scott VanSingel, Republican from Grant, “But one person single-handedly is running the government in so many aspects right now.”
Despite that, Whitmer seemed to be calling for help, for bipartisanship at the negotiating table.
“To focus on what unites us,” said Whitmer, “Improve how we talk to each other and together will fix the damn road ahead.”
“Most of us do want to work together, we have the same goals,” said VanSingel, “Funding schools, fixing roads, getting the economy going again. But the governor has chosen to go alone and so many of those things.”
For a half hour she called for the unity and the other side is ready to hold her to her words.
“Let’s tap into that same energy and end the pandemic,” said Whitmer, “Revitalize our economy and get our kids back into school.
Wednesday morning the House Republicans unveiled their plan to spend federal and state COVID relief dollars. Their plan is similar in Whitmer’s plan in where the money will go but very different in how it will get there. The negotiations begin in earnest now and the state will be watching for that bipartisan promise.