Lansing – Governor Gretchen Whitmer called for immediate tax relief to help Michiganders cope with rising prices and “common sense” actions to combat gun violence Wednesday night in a speech that set out her policy vision for the first year of his second term.
Whitmer, a Democrat who was re-elected in November, used her fifth State of the State speech to detail a three-part plan to help residents deal with inflation, dubbed “Reducing MI Costs.” But she also pressed the House and Senate, which are now under Democratic control, to ensure that “the world our children inherit is no more violent than the one we now inhabit.”
“The time for just thoughts and prayers is over,” Whitmer said, referring to past inaction by lawmakers to respond to mass shootings across the country, including the 2021 murder of four Oxford students.
The governor said policymakers should enact universal background check requirements for people looking to buy firearms, a standard for safe storage for guns at home, and “extreme risk” protection orders, otherwise known as the flag law. red, to allow weapons to be taken from people considered 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 commonsense gun safety proposals across the finish line.”
Republicans criticized the speech for lack of detail and said they were concerned that the firearms-related proposals could conflict with constitutional protections for gun ownership.
“She talks about freedom and openness, but 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 happened,” Representative Andrew Fink, R-Hillsdale, said of the speech.
Whitmer’s inflation-focused financial proposal featured a proposed cut in taxes on retirement income, an expanded tax credit for low-income workers, and an effort to ensure that all 4-year-olds could attend preschool for free.
“My proposals tonight will address the challenges people are facing right now, make a real difference in their lives and make Michigan more competitive,” said Whitmer. “This is our future. But policies alone mean nothing – it’s about the people they impact.”
The governor has worked since she was first elected in 2018 to expand early childhood education opportunities in Michigan. By having taxpayers foot the preschool bill for all 4-year-olds, Whitmer’s office said it would save families more than $10,000 in the cost of private preschool tuition.
“It helps parents, especially mothers, get back to work,” Whitmer said. “And it will launch hundreds more preschool classrooms across Michigan, supporting thousands of jobs.”
Republican State Board of Education member Tom McMillin, a former state legislator, attacked Whitmer’s proposal as government overreach.
“Not so long ago, government-funded full-time kindergarten was their goal. Now the left, as the governor put it, wants government-run ‘childcare’ for all children,” McMillin said in a statement at Wednesday. “They want to be the ones to take care of all the children. ‘Give us your children’ is the continuing mantra of the left. Tonight’s proposal is just another step in that direction.”
Addressing learning loss among students during the pandemic, Whitmer urged lawmakers to pass funding for tutoring programs before the break on March 23 for a two-week spring break. Details on Whitmer’s spending priorities will be presented in the governor’s annual budget submission 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,” said Whitmer.
Whitmer’s speech began with a video that features audio clips of Lions coach Dan Campbell speaking to his football team, which went 9-8 this season and narrowly missed the playoffs. Sound phrases from Campbell’s pep talks were juxtaposed with images of Michigan workers.
Whitmer’s speech before the Legislature was the first time she detailed 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 in both chambers of the Michigan legislature was 40 years ago.
However, the Democrats defended the need to work in the corridor and their majorities are narrow: 20 to 18 in the Senate and 56 to 54 in the House.
The introductory video of Whitmer’s speech on Wednesday ended with the text “We are a team. #MichiganGrit.”
Next year, the governor and lawmakers will have to decide how to respond to rising prices for groceries and other consumer goods as they determine how to handle a $9 billion financial surplus amid forecasts that a mild recession is looming. .
The governor has been championing two tax proposals: One would reduce taxes on retirement income by about $500 million a year and another would increase a tax credit that benefits low-income workers, saving about $400 million a year.
Senate Democrats have begun to introduce bills on both fiscal fronts. On Tuesday, a Senate committee approved the proposal to increase the Income Tax Credit from 6% of the federal credit to 30%, benefiting around 700 thousand families.
On Wednesday, another Senate committee approved the retirement bill, which would undo tax changes implemented in 2011 by former Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican. The new legislation would bring back the income tax exemption for public pensions and increase deductions for other forms of retirement income that were previously cut.
More:Debate over speed and scope of tax cut looms over state of Whitmer
Originally, the Democratic bill would have been implemented gradually over four years. But Senator Kevin Hertel, D-St. Clair Shores, said he expected a review to make the proposal go into effect this year.
“Ultimately, this bill holds promise for our seniors,” Hertel said on 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 the tax law changes to take effect this year, because that deadline would require a two-thirds majority of the supporting vote. GOP lawmakers such as Senate Minority Leader Nesbitt have been calling for swift and sweeping tax relief.
“The way Democrats have phrased it as a retirement tax, I reject that because it’s something where it picks winners and losers who get specific forms of income when they retire,” Nesbitt said.
More:Whitmer will order plan to provide pre-K to all 4-year-olds in Michigan
Whitmer’s State of the State speech on Wednesday was his first given in person in front of lawmakers since 2020. The speech is historically given in state House chambers in front of a joint session of the Legislature, but Whitmer took a two-year hiatus. years since then. site following the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.
More:Whitmer pledges $100 million in state money to land new fighter jets at Selfridge
#Whitmer #calls #tax #relief #gun #reforms