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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Talks Compromise and Michigan’s Fundamental Issues

Shortly after signing a historic auto insurance reform bill on the Grand Hotel porch, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer took to Michigan’s Center Stage on Thursday, May 30 to deliver her first keynote as governor at the 2019 Mackinac Policy Conference.

“We need to go back to seeing the humanity in one another,” she said. The reform of the state’s no-fault auto insurance demonstrated notable bipartisanship and compromise. Although it was a difficult process, the agreement showcased a conviction to focus on finding common ground to solve critical issues, she said.

From criminal justice reform to auto reform, Whitmer cited examples of bipartisan dialogue and cooperation. However, in order to move the state forward, there must be improvements to the fundamentals, said Whitmer— infrastructure, skills gap, and public education.

“When we focus on the fundamentals, we can find common ground.”

Key Takeaways: 

  • Ninety percent of the states’ roads should be in good or fair condition. Currently, in Michigan, 78% of roads are in good or fair condition. “In order to take us to 90%, which will take 10 years, we have to spend $2.5 billion in infrastructure. If we wait, it will be $3.5 billion or higher,” Whitmer said.
  • Whitmer’s discussed her proposed 45 cent gas tax as the solution, as opposed to corporate income, individual income, or sales taxes.
  • Several of Michigan’s 11,000 bridges face structural challenges and require attention. One thousand bridges have weight restrictions, 800 are in poor condition, more than 400 are serious condition, and 49 are closed, said Whitmer.
  • Michigan’s children are falling behind in 4th grade reading proficiency compared to the rest of the nation. Forty-five percent of adults have some form of postsecondary education. Whitmer noted that her budget will assist local schools and ensure that adults have pathways to postsecondary degrees or certificates.

This session was sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.