By Jessica Mathews /

Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer delivered a positive 2022 State of the State address on Wednesday night – which also marked Michigan’s 185th birthday.

Flush with surplus state revenues, Whitmer called for a series of targeted tax cuts while outlining her legislative agenda and touting accomplishments before she's up for re-election.

The Governor delivered her speech virtually due to the pandemic, focusing on unity and bi-partisan progress made. She reiterated that Michigan is strong and getting stronger every day. Whitmer said the pandemic slowed them down a bit but highlighted various accomplishments and spoke about lowering costs and different proposals she plans to put forward.

Whitmer called for exempting retirement income from taxation and fully restoring a credit for 730,000 low and moderate-wage families who on average would get an extra $350 annually. She proposed a $2,500 state credit for the purchase of an electric vehicle and charging equipment on the heels of General Motors’ announced $7 billion investment in Michigan. Other new initiatives include adding hundreds of mental health providers and lowering the cost of insulin.

Whitmer said she’ll soon introduce a school aid budget that will mark the biggest state education funding increase in more than 20 years without raising taxes. She stressed that students learn best in school and they’ll do everything they can to keep kids in the classroom.

The Governor said despite the coronavirus, she and the Republican-led Legislature have made strides in funding education, adding auto jobs, fixing roads, lowering auto insurance premiums, providing relief to small businesses and expanding access to childcare.

Since taking office, Whitmer said Michigan has repaired, rebuilt, or rehabilitated over 13,000 lane miles of road and over 900 bridges in every region of the state while supporting nearly 82,000 jobs.

Whitmer said Republicans and Democrats have shown they can come together to deliver over $420 million dollars in relief to small businesses to help expand operations and retain over 200,000 jobs through COVID, while also expanding to childcare. The Governor said together, they made the largest education investment in state history without raising taxes and last year, they closed the funding gap between schools.

Whitmer stated “We’ve all been through a lot. It’s rational to feel frustrated. Exhausted. Even cynical. Fortunately, the cure for cynicism is competence. These bipartisan accomplishments are a testament to what we can do together. We must believe that better things are possible because that is the only way they ever get done”.

Local lawmakers weighed in following the Governor’s address.

Republican State Senator Lana Theis of Brighton Township said she viewed it with “cautious optimism, if not suspicion”. She said it’s not just taxes and education — there are far too many things they should be working together to fix, including the supply chain, critical infrastructure, and water resources. Theis added she hoped the governor’s appeal to bipartisanship is “more than a picture show”.

Republican State Representative Ann Bollin of Brighton Township was among local lawmakers weighing in after the speech. She said small businesses have been put through the wringer over the past two years, saying the governor’s economic shutdown and the staffing and supply chain shortages created by the pandemic have been incredibly tough on everyone, especially job providers. Bollin said she just voted to advance a $184.6 (m) million plan to help small businesses hurt by the pandemic that were left out of other programs and commented “Now that the governor has taken a public victory lap for our ideas, I expect that we should have no problem getting this signed into law”.

Republican State Representative Bob Bezotte of Marion Township expressed both hope and hesitation with the governor’s address. He said “The governor’s administration has been at the helm of many policy directives that have negatively affected Michiganders throughout the past year. Gov. Whitmer risked the lives of many of our most vulnerable population by putting COVID-19 positive patients back into nursing homes. The number of nursing home deaths was not fully disclosed by the governor’s administration, by a staggering 42 percent, according to a report by the State Auditor General”. Bezotte said he was notably encouraged though to see the governor advocate for repealing the pension tax and said her words here are a step in the right direction.

A link to the Governor’s full address is provided. The full comments from Theis, Bezotte and Bollin are attached.