Fresh into his second term as Lieutenant Governor for the State of Michigan, Garlin Gilchrist II talked about historic investments for Michigan, including educational investments and getting back to how revenue funding “should be,” during his conversation with Stephen Henderson of BridgeDetroit, Detroit Today, and American Black Journal at the 2023 Detroit Policy Conference.
It is All Personal to Gilchrist
Henderson started the conversation by discussing growing up in Detroit and Gilchrist’s perspective on the changing downtown. Gilchrist explained that he and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer get excited about the upcoming statewide work because it “always” connects back to what is happening in Detroit.
“[Detroit] is the most important city for our economy, for our culture, and helps really sets the trajectory for our future,” he said. “So, thinking about downtown Detroit is very personal to me. What’s become clear is how every part of our city can advance together.”
Personal involvement with initiatives came back up while taking Michigan transit investments. After admitting to being a lifelong transit rider, up to when he became Whitmer’s running mate, Gilchrist mentioned that billions have already been invested in transit infrastructure and as more investment continues, he will be “personally engaged in this work.”
“Because a healthy transit system supports everyone, of all income levels, of all life experiences,” he said. “It’s something that can actually bring us together for better, equitable communities.”
Historic Educational Investments Will Continue
Henderson continued the conversation by discussing the historic Democratic Michigan Legislative control and how the city and state will work together to lift the other Detroit neighborhoods up. While saying Detroit is better represented in state leadership “than it ever has been,” Gilchrist also mentioned the educational investments already accomplished through bipartisanship.
“The way we invested in public education, I believe, has laid a solid groundwork for transformation,” Gilchrist said. “[The Whitmer] administration has worked with a Republican legislature for the last four years to put more money into … Detroit Public Schools than ever in the history of education in the state of Michigan and doing so [by] equitably positioning young people… We’re going to continue being committed to that educational investment.”
Included in that educational investment are the Sixty by 30 goal, which is already ahead of schedule according to Gilchrist, and Michigan Reconnect, modeled after the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Detroit Reconnect program to support adults returning to higher education or starting for the first time.
Using Revenue Sharing to Rebuild State-City Relationships, Address Housing Gaps
State revenue and its relationship with Michigan cities also came up in conversation, as Henderson mentioned the “downward slope with investments in cities” and the lack of dialogue and action in Lansing regarding that. After referencing the existing model of constitutional funding and revenue sharing, Gilchrist considers revenue sharing a “base line” to support public safety and other municipality services.
“Constitutional and statutory revenue is the law. And the fact that that was cut under previous administrations and legislatives is a problem and unfair to the city of Detroit… cities and other municipalities across Michigan,” Gilchrist said. “We look forward to … budgets that will support [revenue sharing]. That’s investing in public safety and investing in well-supported public sector employees who are doing service to the community. And that help cities have the resources to do the things they do to take care of their residents.”
This session was sponsored by DTE Energy.