Inside208

Governor Whitmer Delivers State of the State Message, Calls for Expanding Local Road Funding Options

Posted on January 27, 2021 by Dene Westbrook

Governor Whitmer delivered her third State of the State this evening with a focus of bi-partisanship and a theme she coined as “Fixing the Damn Road Ahead”.

The speech was delivered remotely for the first time in Michigan history and was markedly shorter than past speeches as a result.

The Governor reminded viewers of the bipartisan successes of the past year through agreements reached on the pandemic-impacted budget, the MI Reconnect plan for job training support and grants, and the Clean Slate package with delivered criminal justice reforms. She called for similar bipartisan action in the coming year.

Much of the speech focused on the Administration’s efforts to fight the pandemic, but on the policy front, the Governor identified proposals to improve K-12 education funding, expanded unemployment benefits, a new program to provide teacher support grants, and a call to renew the expired Good Jobs For Michigan economic development incentive that was first utilized by Pfizer at their Michigan facility that is now providing the COVID-19 vaccine.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer delivers her 2021 State of the State Address on Jan. 27.

Of interest to League members, the Governor went back to the road funding issue by calling for the Legislature to work with her to expand local road funding options.  It is expected that this will be a more collaborative recommendation, with no specific end result in mind, but pointing to bills introduced last term that would have provided for the option of a local vehicle registration fee and allowed for a local gas tax to be implemented.

She also called again for passage of her water infrastructure proposal she announced in the fall.  The MI Clean Water plan would reallocate $500M in existing federal revenues and state bond funds to support local clean water and contaminate clean-up investments.

In response to the speech, the Municipal League released this statement. League CEO and Executive Director Dan Gilmartin also wrote this opinion piece for Crain’s Detroit Business Forum series about how our Legislature and Governor can help communities emerge from the pandemic in 2021.

More details on these initiatives and other spending priorities are expected in two weeks when the Governor unveils her next budget recommendation.

Chris Hackbarth is the League’s director of state & federal affairs. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 and chackbarth@mml.org.

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