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State of the State: UP leaders share concerns with Whitmer before Wednesday’s address

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will outline her updated priorities for Michigan during the annual State of the State Address Wednesday night.
Published: Jan. 24, 2022 at 6:34 PM EST
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will outline her updated priorities for Michigan during the annual State of the State Address Wednesday night.

The Democratic governor will ask lawmakers to triple Michigan’s tax credit for low- and moderate-income workers. That would give them, on average, an extra $350 a year.

“I know that we’re in a position where we’ve managed through this pandemic,” Whitmer said. “We’ve got a solid budget. We’ve got resources.”

The proposal was announced just before the governor held another virtual roundtable discussion Monday. This was with U.P. and Northern Michigan leaders, focusing on small business and economic development concerns.

“We have to figure out a way to get younger as a state,” said Matt McCauley, Networks Northwest CEO.

“We are struggling to find enough workforce affordable housing,” said Jennifer Shorter, a Petoskey business owner.

“Even raising our starting wages 35%, we’ve not seen an increase in applications,” said Alison Sklarczyk, an Otsego County Farm Owner.

Whitmer says her budget proposal in a couple of weeks will target these areas.

“I know that there’s a lot of stuff in the world right now where we’re never going to find common ground, but we should be able to find it around affordable housing, and around transportation, and making sure all communities have emergency EMT services,” she said.

Whitmer also noted child care shortages are contributing to workforce problems.

“In rural parts of our state, it’s harder to find slots,” she said. “We’ve put a lot of resources into meeting this need and helping working families get back into the workforce, but there’s a lot more we can do in that space as well.”

The Republican-led legislature will add its priorities to the state budget before sending it back to the governor. Whitmer says she’s not counting on the process moving quickly this year, even though it’s an election year.

When responding to a comment about affordable housing, Whitmer also encouraged those in Monday’s roundtable to share their views with state Senators about a bill that would prohibit cities and townships from banning short-term rental housing.

Whitmer’s address starts at 7:00 p.m. ET Wednesday. Live coverage will be available on UpperMichigansSource.com, the TV6 & FOX UP Mobile News App and the TV6 & FOX UP Facebook page.

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