Lansing – Governor Gretchen Whitmer called for immediate tax relief to help Michiganians cope with rising prices and “common sense” measures to address gun violence Wednesday night in a speech outlining her policy vision for the first year of his second term.
Whitmer, a Democrat who won re-election in November, used her fifth state of the state address to detail a three-part plan to help residents deal with inflation, dubbed “Cutting the Costs of Living.” ‘IM’. But she also urged the House and Senate, which are now under Democratic control, to ensure “the world our children inherit is not more violent than the one we live in now.”
“The time for thoughts and prayers is over,” Whitmer said, referring to lawmakers’ past inaction to respond to mass shootings across the country, including the 2021 murder of four Oxford High students. Michigan School.
The governor said policymakers should enact universal background check requirements for people who want to buy firearms, a safe storage standard for firearms at home, and “extreme risk protection orders.” ‘, also known as the Red Flag Act, to allow weapons to be removed from people deemed to be a risk to themselves and others.
“And I want to be very clear – I’m not talking about law-abiding citizens,” Whitmer said. “Hunters and responsible gun owners on both sides of the aisle know we need to get these common sense gun safety proposals across the finish line.”
Paul Long, CEO of the Michigan Catholic Conference, welcomed the governor’s call for a law requiring guns to remain locked up in homes. He called it a “common sense gun control” policy.
“Too often we see on television or read stories online of children or other young adults who have too easily gained access to a firearm which, in the end, unfortunately took the life of another,” Long said in a statement. “The needless killing of innocent people through irresponsible gun ownership or easy access must end.”
Republicans criticized the speech for its lack of detail and said they feared the gun proposals would conflict with constitutional protections for gun ownership.
“She talks about freedom and openness and yet she goes ahead and doesn’t trust free people,” said Senate Minority Leader Aric Nesbitt, a Republican from Porter Township.
“This is a presidential campaign ad. That’s what it was,” Rep. Andrew Fink, R-Hillsdale, said of the speech.
The details of many of Whitmer’s proposals put forward on Wednesday will become clearer in a few weeks when the governor presents his budget recommendation to the Legislature, said Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks, D-Grand Rapids.
“Tonight we just saw a really positive message,” Brinks said. “She is a governor who understands the people of Michigan and will fight to do whatever she can to help everyone.”
Richard Czuba, founder of Lansing-based polling firm Glengariff Group, said he was struck by how centrist Whitmer’s speech was.
“She pitches her program directly to independents,” Czuba said.
Whitmer’s inflation-focused financial proposal included a proposal to cut taxes on retirement income, an expanded tax credit for low-wage workers and an effort to ensure all 4-year-olds can attend for free. kindergarten.
“My proposals tonight will address the challenges people are facing right now, make a real difference in their lives, and make Michigan more competitive,” Whitmer said. “It’s our future. But policies alone don’t mean anything – it’s about the people they affect.”
The governor has been working since her first election in 2018 to expand early education opportunities in Michigan. Asking taxpayers to foot the preschool bill for all 4-year-olds, Whitmer’s office said it would save families up to $10,000 on the cost of private preschool tuition. .
“It helps parents, especially moms, get back to work,” Whitmer said. “And it will launch hundreds more preschool classrooms across Michigan, supporting thousands of jobs.”
Tom McMillin, a member of the state’s Republican Board of Education, a former state legislator, attacked Whitmer’s proposal, calling it a government abuse.
“Not so long ago, government-funded full-day kindergarten was their goal. Now the left, as the governor said, wants government-run ‘daycare’ for all children” , McMillin said in a statement Wednesday. “They want to be the ones who take care of all the children. ‘Give us your children’ is the constant mantra of the left. Tonight’s proposal is just one more step in that direction.”
Addressing student learning loss during the pandemic, Whitmer called on lawmakers to pass funding tutoring programs before they were suspended on March 23 for a two-week spring break. Details on Whitmer’s spending priorities will be presented in the governor’s annual budget presentation to the Legislature on Feb. 8.
“Classroom instruction alone is not enough – our children need more support to master the skills we know they need most,” Whitmer said.
Whitmer’s speech opened with a video featuring audio clips of Lions coach Dan Campbell addressing his upstart football team, which went 9-8 this season and narrowly missed the playoffs. Sound clips of Campbell’s pep talks were juxtaposed with footage of Michigan workers.
Whitmer’s speech to the Legislature was the first time she was able to detail her agenda with Democratic majorities in the State House and Senate. The last time a Democrat started a year in the governor’s office with control of both houses of the Michigan legislature was 40 years ago.
However, Democrats have touted the need to work across the aisle and their majorities are narrow: 20 to 18 in the Senate and 56 to 54 in the House.
The intro video for Whitmer’s speech on Wednesday ended with the text, “We are a team. #MichiganGrit.”
Over the coming year, the governor and lawmakers will have to decide how to respond to rising prices for groceries and other consumer goods while figuring out how to manage a $9 billion fiscal surplus as a mild recession is expected.
The governor has championed two tax proposals: One would cut taxes on retirement income by about $500 million a year, and another would increase a tax credit that benefits low-wage workers, saving them about $400 million a year.
Senate Democrats have begun pushing bills on both tax fronts. On Tuesday, a Senate committee approved a proposal to increase the earned income tax credit from 6% of the federal credit to 30%, helping about 700,000 families.
On Wednesday, another Senate committee approved the retirement bill, which would reverse tax changes put in place in 2011 by former Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican. The new legislation would restore an income tax exemption for public pensions and increase deductions for other forms of retirement income that were previously reduced.
Following:Debate over the speed and scope of Whitmer’s state tax cut
Originally, the Democratic bill would have been phased in over four years. But Sen. Kevin Hertel, D-St. Clair Shores, said he expected a revision to come for the proposal to take full effect this year.
“At the end of the day, this bill delivers on a promise to our seniors,” Hertel said Wednesday. “What you were told you would earn in retirement is what you will earn.”
Democrats will likely have to work with Republicans to get tax law changes into effect this year, as such a timeline would require two-thirds majority support votes. GOP lawmakers, like Senate Minority Leader Nesbitt, have called for quick and broad tax relief.
“The way Democrats framed this as a retirement tax, I reject that, because it’s something where it’s about picking winners and losers who get specific forms of income when they take their retirement,” Nesbitt said.
Following:Whitmer to call for plan to provide pre-K to all 4-year-olds in Michigan
Whitmer’s State of the State address on Wednesday was his first delivered to lawmakers in person since 2020. The address is historically delivered in the chambers of the State House before a joint session of the Legislative Assembly, but Whitmer took a two-year hiatus. place after the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.
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