Jan 25, 2024 - News

Free college, caregiver tax credit highlight Whitmer's 2024 agenda

Gov. Whitmer stands in front of Senate Leader Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) and House Speaker Joe Tate (D-Detroit)

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer stands in front of Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) and House Speaker Joe Tate (D-Detroit) inside the House of Representatives at the Capitol in Lansing. Photo: Samuel Robinson/Axios

Free community college for all high school graduates and free preschool for 4-year-olds were among the proposals touted by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during her sixth State of the State address Wednesday.

Driving the news: The second-term governor looked comfortable delivering her speech that outlined proposals on education, her plan to give $5,000 tax credits to caregivers and furthering the state's economic development efforts.

  • Those efforts include a $100 million research and development fund.

State of play: The governor's speech also highlighted goals accomplished in 2023 under the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

Yes, but: It gets complicated this year with a 54-54 House, meaning the governor will need at least one House Republican to pass legislation — at least until two special elections are held in Metro Detroit.

Zoom in: Whitmer mentioned Detroit three times during her speech.

  • "Detroiters see higher rates when they re-sign [rental leases]," she said while talking about a plan to invest $1.4 billion to build or rehab nearly 10,000 homes.
  • She mentioned the $3.5 billion investment to fix Michigan roads, which included I-96 and I-275 across Metro Detroit.
  • And she noted the proposed Fortescue battery plant — as part of the "Make it in Michigan" economic strategy — which received a $13.7 million grant and a city tax break worth about $7.7 million, Financial Review reports.

Between the lines: The city was well-represented inside the Capitol again this year with Mayor Mike Duggan and City Council President Mary Sheffield in attendance.

  • Majority floor leader Rep. Abraham Aiyash (D-Hamtramck) brought Eastside Community Network president Donna Givens Davidson as his guest.

The intrigue: Whitmer used '80s rock as the theme for her jokes and metaphors, the same way the Democratic majority got the state "into the groove" last year.

The other side: "Instead of working on her Spotify playlist, let's get down to actually governing to make life more affordable in Michigan," first-term Rep. Bill Schuette (R-Midland) said in his response.

  • "Tonight, the governor talked more about the Detroit Lions than any substantive plan to solve our state's problems," House minority leader Matt Hall said in a statement.

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