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Gov. Whitmer's progress a year after her first State of the State address

Posted at 12:00 PM, Jan 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-28 20:49:38-05

LANSING (WXYZ) — Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer will deliver her second State of the State address Wednesday, and she'll be outlining her priorities for the next year.

RELATED: Roads, infrastructure top Whitmer's agenda in State of the State Address

Ahead of the speech, 7 Action News is highlighting the promises made in her first State of the State address one year ago. We're looking at the successes, the failures and the ones still in progress.

Let's take a look back at those promises.

On Those "Damn Roads"
“Let’s get it done and let’s fix the damn roads,” said Gov. Whitmer on the house floor in Lansing on Feb. 12.

This promise received an enthusiastic applause. However, a year later, Michigan’s roads are still the prominent priority where progress has eluded the Whitmer administration. The partisan fight to find funding to fix the roads poisoned much of the governor’s paramount priorities promised in her first State of the State speech, including when the budget would be completed.

7 Action News has been looking at road issues across counties in our Getting Around Metro Detroit coverage. The reports, can can be found here, outlining what's working and what isn't when it comes to Michigan roads.

The governor's office responded saying, "The governor is still the only person who's put a real solution on the table to actually fix the roads. She's ready to work with anyone to solve this problem, but Republicans have offered nothing but a half-baked idea to raid teacher pensions and letting our roads return to gravel. That's it. In 2020, Republicans can either choose to work with the governor to get the job done, or they can choose to run on a dirt road agenda heading into November. The people of Michigan are demanding action and we can't afford to wait."

On the Budget
"I give kudos to Gov. Snyder," Whitmer said. "Budgets got done before a break happened. We are going to stick to that."

However, that didn't happen.

David Dulio, Oakland University Political Science professor and co-author of the book "Michigan Government, Politics and Policy," explains why that expectation may have been too lofty.

"Gov. Snyder was working with a friendly legislature," Dulio said. "Gov. Whitmer, again, has got divided government."

The divided government dichotomy derailed many proposals offered in that first address.

"Gov. Whitmer was the only one to put forward a real budget with solutions," a spokesperson for the governor said in an email to 7 Action News. "She introduced her budget recommendation in March and didn’t receive Republican bills until September. The budget was not done by break because the legislature went on vacation – BUT we got a law passed that said they need it done by July 1."

On FOIA
"Let's expand FOIA to my office and to yours," Whitmer said while addressing the legislature, which is still exempt from Freedom of Information requests.

"We need to expand the Elliot-Larson Civil Rights Act to include protections for the LGBTQ community," she added

The governor's office responded saying, "The Governor has promised to sign legislation that extends FOIA to her office and the legislature, and that treats them the same in relevant respects. She remains committed to that promise. This too takes legislative action. The website www.michigan.gov/sunshine [michigan.gov] voluntarily discloses public calendars for the Governor and Lt. Governor, along with the governor’s federal income tax returns and personal financial information."

Watch Gov. Whitmer's first State of the State address below.

On LGBTQ Protections
Whitmer's administration has strengthened protections for LGBTQ state employees. However, LGBTQ Michiganders can still be fired or kicked out of an apartment for their sexual orientation, though a push to bring Elliot-Larson expansion to voters via a ballot initiative is currently under way by a committee called Fair and Equal Michigan.

The governor's office says to make further changes, it will require legislative action.

On Hands-Free Driving
“It is time for Michigan to join the 16 states that have passed hands-free laws to keep our roads and our kids safe," said Whitmer in 2019.

The state is yet to pass a hands-free law.

"You can’t help but look at some of these and say 'Really? You can’t get together and do that?,'" Dulio said.

The governor's office responded saying, "This passed one chamber. It required legislative action to get this done after Governor Whitmer made her call to action."

On Successes
Whitmer has found success in the form of criminal justice and car insurance reform.

"Just because they weren't part of the State of the State priorities from 2019 doesn't mean that they shouldn't be applauded in 2020," Dulio said.

On Education
Another State of the State priority is yet to be determined.

"I am announcing a new statewide goal of increasing the number of Michiganders between the ages of 16 and 64 with a post-secondary credential to 60 percent by 2030," Whitmer said.
The most recent data available sets Michigan at 45 percent, according to the nonpartisan Lumina Foundation.

This is still a priority, according to Gov. Whitmer's office, and Michiganders can expect to hear more about this in the future.

Sarah Stark is a 22-year type 1 diabetic, whose insulin cost have skyrocketed. (One of Slotkin’s marquee policy initiatives is prescription drug cost.) pic.twitter.com/kt0gXYieoX

— Brian Abel (@BrianAbelTV) January 28, 2020

On Bipartisanship
Lastly, on bipartisanship, Gov. Whitmer's office says that she has been and remains committed to working across the aisle.

"Governor Whitmer has been and remains committed to working with anyone who wants to work with her on finding real solutions to address issues facing Michigan residents," according to a spokesperson for Whitmer. "She remains ready to work with the legislature when they want to get things done that will benefit the people of Michigan.

It's been proven they can work together."

The spokesperson also outlined what has worked under bipartisanship in the state since Whitmer was elected.
After six straight years of having the highest auto insurance rates in the nation, historic bipartisan auto insurance reform legislation was passed.

  • There has been historic bipartisan progress on criminal justice reforms with a task force that will help make real reforms in our criminal justice system.
  • There is also a new law that will raise the age for juvenile offenders from 17 to 18.

7 Action News will be livestreaming Gov. Whitmer's second State of the State address at 7 p.m. online and in the wxyz.com app.