Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s State of the State address on Wednesday night was unlike any we’ve seen in our lifetimes. That’s because it happened without an audience sitting in front of her.
“In many respects, this was an olive branch, an attempt to make peace with the Legislature after months and months and months and months of fighting over the pandemic and the economic fallout.” — Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio Network
Because of pandemic protocols, Whitmer gave the speech virtually from the state Capitol. There weren’t any breaks for applause, which meant the speech went by fast — less than 30 minutes. In that time, the governor spent less time on specific policy proposals and more time trying to strike a hopeful tone for the future and provide reassurance. “Every eligible Michigander who wants a vaccine will get one,” said Whitmer. “This process is like a locomotive will be cumbersome and slow in the beginning, but it will get faster and smoother as we go.”
She also emphasized the need for collaboration across the aisle. “Our job now is to fix the damn road ahead together,” she said, speaking to legislative leaders. “Let’s commit to the strong bipartisan action we took last energy to end the pandemic, grow our economy and get our kids back on track.”
Listen: Governor Whitmer calls on lawmakers to find common ground in State of the State address.
Rick Pluta is the senior state Capitol correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. Pluta describes Whitmer’s speech as a peace offering of sorts, saying, “In many respects, this was an olive branch, an attempt to make peace with the Legislature after months and months and months and months of fighting over the pandemic and the economic fallout.”
“It was a pretty dramatic change in tone in the way she’s been speaking to Republicans in the Legislature, especially when they’re not speaking directly about what’s going on,” he continues.
Not all Republican lawmakers were receptive to her message of bipartisanship, however. “Throughout this Governor’s time in office, (she) has done everything possible to avoid working with the elected members in this chamber is our founders intended,” says GOP Senator Aric Nesbitt.
Prior to her address, Republicans voted to deny the confirmation of 13 Whitmer appointees, including the new director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Elizabeth Hertel. Republican Senator Ken Horn of Frankenmuth says the legislature will continue to deny Whitmer’s appointees. “We will continue to use the tools that we have with or without our colleagues on the other side to demonstrate to the governor that we are partners in this,” says Horn. “We are a co-equal branch. And until that’s recognized, we will use the tools that we have without explanation.”
Web post written by Allise Hurd.