Whitmer’s COVID Strategy Opens Budget Negotiations with GOP
During this latest surge in COVID-19 cases, Governor Gretchen Whitmer changed her usual strategy to tighten restrictions and, in the process, may have offered an olive branch to the other side of the aisle and push forward budget negotiations.
Governor Whitmer surprised quite a few people by saying she’s not going to up restrictions and instead focus on personal responsibility and pushing for more vaccines. That push for personal responsibility has gotten some positive feedback from the GOP in the legislature.
“I’ve not made decisions around COVID based on politics,” said Whitmer at a road funding event in Wayland Monday, “We’re still following the data right now. We know that our numbers are high but they look like it’s slowing.”
Whitmer and the GOP in the legislature have squared off the entire pandemic but now there may be room for agreement.
“I don’t hold grudges. I’m not going to look backwards,” said Whitmer, “I’m going to keep looking forward and trying to get things done. It is my hope that we can find some common ground.”
She says there is a dialogue with the legislature, and publicly, top Republicans in each chamber seem to agree.
Speaker of the House Jason Wentworth said, “I’m glad the governor encouraged personal responsibility and safety without the one-size-fits-all mandates.”
Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey tweeted, “I applaud Governor Whitmer for resisting the tremendous pressure to lock our state down and trusting Michiganders to do the right thing.”
The strategy may be paying off.
“It does appear early indications are that the seven-day average shows a slowing,” said Whitmer, “That is positive. What we want to see is a drop though.”
Right now there are two fights, one against COVID and the other to get the budget and COVID funding agreed upon. With a lot of work left but things heading in the right direction.
“We’ve got to make sure that we deploy these resources in a way that gets our kids back in school, helps people get connected to skills, cleans water, builds roads and sets us up for long-term success and economic health.” said Whitmer.
When it comes to those budget negotiations, last year the two sides missed their self-imposed deadline of the end of June to have the budget done. They still say that is the goal for 2021.