MICHIGAN, USA — Governor Gretchen Whitmer spoke for about 25 minutes at the State of the State address Wednesday night, highlighting accomplishments in Michigan and proposing tax cuts for retirees and working families. Like last year, she's reaching across the aisle to get work done in her fourth and potentially final year as our governor.
"The state of our state is strong, and it's getting stronger every day," she says.
It was once again delivered virtually due to COVID-19, but this year, on the state's 185th birthday. At the start of the speech, Governor Whitmer reflected on another year dominated by the pandemic.
"While 2021 wasn't as miraculous as any of us wanted, we have made progress. We're stronger in large part thanks to science and life-saving vaccines," she says.
In 2022, Governor Whitmer is proposing an end to the retirement tax.
"I'm ready to work across the aisle to roll back the retirement tax and save 500,000 households in Michigan an average of $1,000 bucks a year," she said.
Whitmer proposed an increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit, which has been slashed over the last decade, meaning lower tax refunds for families.
"Restoring the EITC lifts more than 22,000 people out of working poverty. And it sends 730,000 families an average refund of almost $3,000 bucks that they can use to pay the bills," Governor Whitmer says.
"I'd like to get to see it across the board for everybody," State Rep. Luke Meerman of the 88th District, says.
He wants to see lower income taxes for Michiganders.
"For me, that would be an income tax reduction from you know, 4.25 to 3.9," he says. "I think that would help so many more people."
28th District State Senator Mark Huizenga says he supports a plan helping those in poverty, but he says restoration of the EITC could be difficult.
"If you're having difficulty making ends meet, you just don't have time to wait till the end of the year for a bigger tax refund," he says.
State Rep. Huizenga wishes the Governor talked more about COVID's effect in the classroom, since Flint and Detroit schools are out right now.
"I did find a little bit of hypocrisy in the [Governor's] comment that everybody needs to be in school," he says.
"Some folks have been critical of the legislature for not spending them quick enough. But, you know, we can't use the COVID dollars for things like tax reductions, they have to be done for things that are going to be good for generations," he says.
Governor Whitmer says she is working on investing those federal resources into small businesses and local communities.
"It can be hard to see in the moment, but tough times make us stronger," she says.
The Governor also proposed a cap on insulin costs at $50 and an expansion of Michigan's Loan Repayment Program for mental health professionals, to recruit and retain more workers to make sure every Michigander can take care of their mental health.
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