With Democrats controlling all levels of power in the state for the first time in 40 years, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proudly delivered her 2023 State of the State address Wednesday in the Capitol’s House chamber.
“We spoke with a clear voice in November,” Whitmer said in her annual State of the State speech.“We want the ability to raise a family without breaking the bank. We want strong protections for our fundamental rights to vote and control our own bodies.”
While Whitmer spoke about a variety of issues, she emphasized her promise to further defend abortion rights in the state after the Supreme Court’s decision to rescind Roe v. Wade.
“Let’s repeal our extreme 1931 law banning abortion,” Whitmer said.
While emphasizing her stance against abortion bans, the Michigan governor even called out states with strict abortion laws and policies against the LGBTQ community, including Indiana and Ohio.
“States with extreme laws are losing talent and investment, because, you know what? Bigotry is bad for business,” she said.
“Our message is simple: We will fight for your freedom. And you know what? Let’s go on offense. I’ll go to any state that restricts people’s freedoms and win business and hard-working people from them. I’m looking at you, Ohio and Indiana.”
Of course, the comments caused some backlash from the GOP, including the Michigan Republican Party, which tweeted during the speech: “No. You know who is losing talent? Michigan. Here it is again, Gretch — more people moved OUT of Michigan in 2022 than in.”
According to Fox News, this State of the State speech is one of the first times that Whitmer outlined specific legislation for the upcoming year. Republicans—who seem to have an issue with anything that comes out of the governor’s mouth—criticized Whitmer for not outlining a broader plan to help Michigan residents.
"She’s got the House, the Senate and herself. Where is the roads plan? Where’s her infrastructure plan?" House Republican Leader Matt Hall said. "Or are we only going to get from her a bunch of statements about new government programs that she wants to create?"
But while Republicans are quick to criticize the Democratic governor for wanting to increase freedoms in the state, none of them seem to be coming after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis who instead of increasing freedoms is looking to ban them. DeSantis is actively trying to restrict books, school curricula, use of pronouns, and participation in sports and other activities.
According to CNN, counties across the state of Florida are being required to have books be approved for classroom libraries under DeSantis’ HB 1467. If found to violate the law, teachers could face up to a third-degree felony.
“It’s unconscionable to me that teachers would be put in a position that their good deed of providing classroom libraries for their students in order to instill the love of reading could possibly result in a felony,” Pat Barber, president of the Manatee Education Association, told CNN.
The books provision was signed in July, and while it states that books must be “appropriate for the grade level and age group,” what exactly is appropriate is determined by DeSantis and his minions at Florida’s Department of Education.
Whitmer, on the other hand, is asking lawmakers to create a universal preschool program that would expand to cover the costs of educating all 4-year-old children in the state within the next four years. That means preschool would be free for thousands of children.
According to Bridge Michigan, the current program in place covers costs for low-income families that earn up to 250% of the federal poverty level, but this program would help families in the state cover an average of $10,000 in childcare costs.
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