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Whitmer plans "dinner table" topics for first State of the State

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer with Political Reporter Mikenzie Frost ahead of her first State of the State address.JPG

One day before her first State of the State address, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer sat down to preview the event with Political Reporter Mikenzie Frost.

Whitmer ran her campaign on “fixing the damn roads” and that phrase can be expected to ring through the House of Representatives chamber as she addresses the joint session of the 100th Legislature.

“I’m going to ask the public to snap a picture of busted rim or their bill and to post it with the hashtag FTDR, and I think you know what that stands for,” she said Monday afternoon.

Director of the Department of Transportation Paul Ajegba told a Senate committee the state needs $1.5 billion more to fix the roads, which is money the state doesn’t have right now. Whitmer said she is going to make her case during the address.

“I’m going to ask the Legislature to go back to their locals and prioritize what will improve the roads in their areas,” she said.

Whitmer added that following the address, her office will roll out the next budget in early March. She said she would like to find a solution to the road funding issues and include that in her budget.

Besides roads, Whitmer said people can expect to hear “dinner table issues” throughout her address. Those topics will not be new to anyone who followed her gubernatorial campaign: education, closing the skills gap and clean water.

She said there would be a few other surprises that might surface Tuesday night, but did not elaborate.

“I think there will be some newsworthy items that I announce during the address,” she slyly said.

The political divide grew in Lansing after Whitmer signed an executive order in the first week of February to reorganize the Department of Environmental Quality. Less than 48 hours later, the Republican-controlled House launched efforts to block that order, citing several issues with Whitmer’s plans to eliminate three environmental review panels that were legislatively created in 2018 under the Snyder Administration.

The action in the House sparked Whitmer to speak out. She said law makers who voted to block her executive order were legislators who voted “against clean water.” The Senate, also under GOP-leadership, mulled over the House’s plan to overturn Whitmer’s plan.

She said she would address the divide, in some form, Tuesday, but stands by her order creating the new Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, or EGLE.

Whitmer said her speech would be the same length as other addresses and hoped to outline her priorities for the year ahead.

Republican leadership would not be televising a response Tuesday night. Instead, Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, would speak to the media during a roundtable discussion Wednesday morning.

“The people of Michigan have been clear about their top priorities and the biggest challenges facing families in this state. House and Senate Republicans share their priorities and expect to see Gov. Whitmer address them in her remarks on Tuesday night,” said Chatfield’s Communications Director Gideon D’Assandro said via email.

Follow Political Reporter Mikenzie Frost on Twitter and Facebook for complete coverage of the State of the State address. Send Mikenzie tips to mbfrost@sbgtv.com or (517) 897-4861.

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