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Responses to the State of the State Address

Posted at 9:50 PM, Feb 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-12 22:04:31-05

LANSING, Mich. — Tonight Gretchen Whitmer laid out her plan for the State of Michigan. After the State of the State address a number of groups offered their thoughts on what she had to say. Below you will read some of the thoughts:
“Gov. Whitmer made it clear tonight that she is going to take a hard-line stance on climate change and we applaud her bold leadership on protecting our air, land, water and public health,” said Mike Berkowitz, legislative and political director for the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter.
“From warming temperatures to more severe weather events, climate change poses monumental threats to our Great Lakes, drinking water and communities. Gov. Whitmer is a proven champion for our air and water and is taking the aggressive, head-on approach needed to fight climate change,” said Mary Brady-Enerson, Michigan director for Clean Water Action.
"Gov. Whitmer understands the real and urgent threats climate change poses to Michigan industries and the health of citizens. We applaud her for joining the U.S. Climate Alliance and taking steps to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change,” said James Gignaclead Midwest energy analyst for the Climate & Energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
"Governor Whitmer's remarks on climate change and clean water impart a courageous and clear vision for the state. She is proudly proclaiming that together we can and will be leaders in what matters most to the people of Michigan,” said Ariana Gonzalez, senior energy policy analyst for Natural Resources Defense Council.
Guy O. Williams, president & CEO of Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice (DWEJ), said, “We are very excited about the innovative design of the new agency Gov. Whitmer has proposed. It is the first straightforward, easy-to-understand structure to address the most important issues and opportunities relating to the environment and our economy in decades.”

“We believe it’s possible to provide clean air and water, and address climate change, while helping our economy. The proposed Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy will activate powerful efficiencies in state government through the interagency response team called for by environmental justice leaders last year, and will give a landing place for the voices of impacted communities around water quality, affordability and environmental injustices. We look forward to working with Gov. Whitmer.”
“Climate change causes extreme weather that exacerbates the impacts of asthma, lung and heart disease and other respiratory conditions, which is why we need urgent action to reduce pollution in our air,” said Kathleen Slonager, RN, AE-C, CCH, executive director of the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America Michigan Chapter. “We applaud Gov. Whitmer for making combatting climate change a priority in her address this evening.”
“Gov. Whitmer understands the serious threats climate change poses to the health of Michigan families, children and seniors,” said Kindra Weid, RN, coalition coordinator for MI Air MI Health. “We thank Gov. Whitmer for taking a head-on approach to tackling climate change and protecting public health.”
“From more frequent and severe extreme weather events to increases in disease-bearing insects, climate change poses significant threats to the health of Michiganders. We applaud Gov. Whitmer for recognizing the impacts of climate change and taking steps to address it,” said Mara Herman, health policy specialist for the Ecology Center.
MEA President Paula Herbart shared the below thoughts:
“It is a welcome change for Michigan’s school employees to hear from our governor about the need to respect and listen to educators on the front lines. Michigan teachers and education support professionals work every day, from pre-K through graduate school, to help every student succeed, often in tough situations. Michigan’s public schools are the cornerstone of our democracy and our economy, and I want to thank Gov. Whitmer for recognizing that our system – not our educators or our students – needs to be fixed.

“None of this is going to be easy, especially when it comes to addressing the systematic underfunding of public education. Whether it’s the School Finance Research Collaborative’s adequacy study or the recent report from MSU about Michigan’s dismal record of education funding increases over the past 25 years, the research is clear that this isn’t a problem that started yesterday – or will be fixed in full tomorrow. We must start this conversation from a recognition that we are not adequately or equitably funding our students’ educations, then work from there to find real solutions.

“Those solutions must lead us to closing the skills gap and helping students continue their education beyond high school to meet the needs of modern jobs. Setting a goal of 60 percent of Michigan’s students getting a post-secondary degree or training by 2030 is the kind of high bar we need from leaders like Gov. Whitmer. Whether students are pursuing 2- or 4-year degrees or other training and apprenticeships, we must help them to afford those opportunities, which is why the governor’s MI Opportunity Scholarship is essential to meeting our goal.

“We can and must work together – across party and ideological divides – to accomplish our goals for our students and our state. To that end, MEA is proud to be part of Launch Michigan, an alliance working together across the education, business and philanthropic communities to find common ground on education policy. This past week, Launch Michigan fielded a statewide educator survey that garnered over 13,000 responses. In the spirit of Gov. Whitmer’s call for both bipartisanship and listening to our front-line education experts, I hope every educator answers that survey to make our voices heard in the critical education discussions we must have together.”
The following is a statement from Tricia Kinley, executive director of the Insurance Alliance of Michigan, in response to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s State of the State address.

“We applaud Gov. Whitmer for highlighting the urgent need to find solutions to reduce the cost of car insurance for drivers throughout Michigan. We encourage lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to work together with the governor on meaningful, comprehensive reforms to fix Michigan’s broken, outdated auto no-fault system including cracking down on fraud and abuse, stopping medical providers from dramatically overcharging for procedures and giving consumers a choice in their level of medical coverage.”
Jim Byrum, president of the Michigan Agri-business Association today issued the following statement reacting to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s State of the State address.

“Michigan farmers and agribusinesses are experiencing firsthand the negative impacts of climate change, with more frequent severe weather events, increases in pests and other challenges,” said Jim Byrum, president of the Michigan Agri-business Association. “We applaud Gov. Whitmer for taking climate change and its impacts on agriculture seriously and working to help protect Michigan farmers and agribusinesses.”
The following is a statement from Dr. Wanda Cook-Robinson, School Finance Research Collaborative Project Director:

“I applaud Gov. Whitmer for recognizing the need for a new, fairer school funding approach that meets the unique, individual and wide-ranging learning needs of all students in tonight’s State of the State address,” said Dr. Wanda Cook-Robinson, School Finance Research Collaborative Project Director. “Using Michigan’s first comprehensive school adequacy study as a roadmap, we look forward to working with the governor as we chart a new path toward fixing Michigan’s broken school funding approach, ensuring every Michigan student has the same opportunity at getting a good education and competing for 21st century jobs.”
The Agricultural Leaders of Michigan today issued the following statement applauding Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for making infrastructure improvements an emphasis of her first State of the State address. Michigan’s agriculture industry depends on sound infrastructure, like rail, roads and bridges, to ensure the safe, efficient movement of agricultural inputs and production.

“Critical infrastructure, like rail, roads and bridges, and water, utilities, broadband and even waste water treatment are essential to Michigan’s agriculture industry. We applaud Gov. Whitmer for putting infrastructure at the top of her administration’s priority list for 2019 and beyond. A thriving agriculture industry depends on up-to-date infrastructure, and we look forward to working with the Governor, state agencies and key stakeholders to fix our roads and improve every facet of Michigan’s aging infrastructure.”
State Sen. Curtis Hertel, Jr. (D–East Lansing) has issued the following statement on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s State of the State address, during which she spoke about fixing the state’s crumbling infrastructure.

“For too long, Michigan has thrown pennies at our potholes and expected it to fix our crumbling roads and bridges. It’s beyond frustrating for hardworking taxpayers who are paying more and receiving less from their government. Gov. Whitmer has a plan to finally fix our roads, and I look forward to working with her and my colleagues in the legislature to finally bring relief to motorists around our state."
The Michigan Democratic Party issued the following statement today on behalf of MDP Chair Lavora Barnes in response to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s State of the State address:

“We applaud Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s State of the State address tonight because it reflects her relentless focus on making life better for Michigan families by fixing the roads, improving schools, protecting drinking water, and building a stronger, healthier economy.

“We especially commend Gov. Whitmer for prioritizing the need to make sure every Michigander has a path to a good-paying job. Launching the Michigan Reconnect and MI Opportunity scholarships and setting a postsecondary attainment goal are strong steps that will increase opportunity for workers and boost their wages.

“We are proud of how our state’s new, Democratic leadership has already hit the ground running -- and we look forward to continuing to support Gov. Whitmer's bold efforts to find common ground and take on the biggest problems facing our state.”
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson issued the following statement after tonight’s State of the State Address by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer:

“In her State of the State Address tonight, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called for legislation to ban any use of mobile devices while driving. I applaud the governor for this life-saving call to action. The Department of State has long advocated for distraction-free driving with the 90,000 Michigan teens who go through our driver education program each year. Such a law would underscore that practice for all drivers. I urge our Legislature to take up the banner for this life-saving legislation.”