In her address Friday to members of the Detroit Regional Chamber, Governor Whitmer spoke about her recently announced 2022 budget for the state of Michigan while also calling for bipartisan civility and support from Detroit’s business community. Stressing the need to reopen schools safely, Whitmer highlighted the current COVID-19 recovery plan’s successes while looking to the future.
“This budget is laser-focused on putting Michigan back to work, getting kids back in school safely as soon as possible. In conjunction with the Michigan COVID recovery plan. This budget helps us build a better Michigan for everyone,” stated Whitmer during her address. “I’ll continue reaching across the aisle and engaged with the legislature in good faith to ensure we don’t waste a dime of federal aid that we have received so far, and make further investments so we can all help to say that we’d love to get back on its feet.”
I just want to take a moment here to thank you, as members of the Detroit Regional Chamber, for championing infrastructure investment over the years. I’m so glad to have you as partners in this effort. And we’ve made strides. We have to keep working to move ahead. This budget helps us achieve our shared vision, building on the progress we have made throughout the pandemic to continue strengthening our infrastructure, Whitmer added while speaking further on her 2022 budget.
DETROIT REGIONAL CHAMBER AND WHITMER TALK BUDGET PRIORITIES
As outlined by the Detroit Regional Chamber after the address had concluded, there are many priorities deemed essential to the Chamber and business leaders included in the budget. Some notable points where funding is allocated include $120 million for the Michigan Reconnect program, $60 million for Futures for Frontliners and $25 million for the Mobility Futures Initiative.
Two other factors deemed crucial by the chamber also include the funding of local infrastructure initiatives and support for Good Jobs for Michigan. Whitmers budget also establishes proper guidelines for improving K-12 education across the state and supporting at-risk and special needs students.
One disagreement between the governor and the chamber was over the future of the Enbridge Line 5 oil pipeline, which, while the chamber notes will heat homes, power worksites and provide a small number of jobs, also threatens Michigan’s fragile waterways at a time when more incentive is being placed on clean, renewable energy.
CALLS FOR UNITY
Whitmer’s introduction address was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Sandy K. Baruah, President and Chief Executive Officer, Detroit Regional Chamber, that included the governor and Dave Massaron, Budget Director, State of Michigan. During the panel, Whitmer was asked what steps Michigan leaders can take to better work together.
“I think it’s really important at this moment that the chamber and the members of the chamber lean in and hold people who espouse rhetoric that is dangerously accountable and play a real role here,” shared Whitmer while responding to Baruah.
Agreeing with the governor’s comments, Baruah shared that the chamber was willing to work together to find common ground from both sides while also adding that the dangerous rhetoric and tactics used to intimidate elected officials is something that should not be tolerated.
“Well, governor, we accept that challenge, and we have said and I’m happy to say in this forum that you know the attacks that have been directed towards you and your family, with the language that has been used, and obviously the serious crimes that have been committed against you are completely appalling and have no place in a civil society,” stated Baruah. “I do appreciate that you have reminded our audience that civility of public discourse is a key pillar of the Detroit regional chambers ethos.”
As the panel ended, Whitmer and the Chamber speakers arrived at the common idea that no matter what differences may persist, it’s crucial for unity at this moment if Michigan and Detroit are to emerge out of the ongoing pandemic stronger. Pledging to work with the governor, the Chamber and State Government remained committed to reopening schools, continuing the vaccine push, supporting businesses, and working to improve Michigan’s infrastructure.
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