Governor Whitmer focused on building the fundamentals – family and business – at her Townhall in Grand Rapids this week. Hosted by the Grand Rapids Chamber in partnership with The Economic Club, Talent 2025, The Right Place, and the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber, the Townhall brought more than 400 individuals together to hear from the Governor about her top priorities: education and skills, infrastructure, water, and health care.
Governor Whitmer spoke to her proposed education investments in her Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 budget, including additional funding for at-risk youth, preschool, and early literacy. Questions from the audience focused on the fate of programs like Pure Michigan and the Going Pro Talent Fund, which were vetoed from the FY2020 budget but restored in the Governor’s FY2021 budget. The FY2021 budget includes $35M for Michigan Reconnect, a program that the Grand Rapids Chamber has been active in shaping and supporting, as well as $29.7M for the Going Pro Talent Fund. The Governor also lifted up childcare as a barrier to economic growth. The Grand Rapids Chamber has convened a statewide coalition to address childcare accessibility and affordability while lifting up the business voice. To learn more about this effort, contact Alexa Kramer.
Governor Whitmer prioritizes health care and expanding parental leave for state employees. This is something that the federal government is currently doing, and the Governor hopes Michigan can be a model for other states. Additional health care priorities for the Governor include prescription drug costs and supporting healthy moms and healthy babies. Water and the environment were also discussed as we’re seeing the devastating effects lakeshore erosion.
It is no surprise that the Governor spoke to roads and infrastructure and explained her Rebuilding Michigan plan. This plan aims to fix our highly traveled roads via a $3.5 billion bond that was recently adopted by the State Transportation Commission. While the Governor was upfront that this is not a solution for our local roads, she believes this plan helps our state get started and relies on working with the Legislature to develop a larger, sustainable road funding plan that encompasses our local roads and public transit.
The Governor also fielded questions from the audience about programs that were line item vetoed, what she’s learned from the last budget cycle, and how she will approach this current budget differently.
The Grand Rapids Chamber hopes you will take the Governor’s parting advice: to get engaged in conversations happening in Lansing. The Chamber’s Government Affairs team are here to help you get connected. Our upcoming Breakfast with Legislators event is a great opportunity to ask your elected officials questions on your top priorities. Get registered here for our next one on February 24th from 7:30-9:00 a.m. at the Grand Rapids Chamber.