Whitmer proposes tax cuts, more mental health workers


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Wealthy with the state’s surplus revenue, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday called for a series of targeted tax cuts while outlining her legislative agenda and touting bipartisan achievements ahead of her re-election.

Giving her second consecutive State of the State address virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she called for the tax exemption of retirement income – allowing 500,000 households to save an average of $500 a year. year – and the full restoration of credit for 730,000 low- and middle-wage earners. families who would receive an average of $350 more per year.

She offered a $2,500 state credit for the purchase of an electric vehicle and charging equipment on the heels of General Motors’ announced $7 billion investment in Michigan to convert a factory to manufacture electric vans and build a new battery cell factory.

Other new initiatives include adding hundreds of mental health care providers and reducing the cost of insulin.

“I believe that wherever possible, we should make taxes fairer for our seniors and our working families. Michiganders should be able to keep more of what they’ve earned,” Whitmer said from auto supplier Detroit Diesel’s factory in Redford Township, flanked by all-electric vehicles, saying places like this are the where Michigan’s future will be forged.

It was believed to be the first time a governor has delivered annual remarks outside of Lansing since it became the state capital 175 years ago. Governors began giving speeches in person sometime in the 20th century, according to state archivist Mark Harvey.

Whitmer had planned to address lawmakers again in a joint legislative session on Capitol Hill, as is tradition, until the omicron variant fueled a record number of reported infections and hospitalizations.

“While 2021 hasn’t been as miraculous as any of us would have liked, we have made progress,” she said of the pandemic during the 25-minute speech. “We’re stronger in large part because of science and life-saving vaccines. We’ve come a long way, and I’m encouraged by how far we’ve come.

The governor said despite the coronavirus, she and the Republican-led Legislature have made progress funding education, adding auto jobs, fixing roads and cutting insurance premiums automobile.

One of the goals, she said, is to increase the number of mental health workers. She proposed expanding a program whereby the state pays up to $200,000 in student loans for those who work in nonprofit clinics in areas where there is a shortage of medical professionals. And she said she would propose another ‘bold investment’ in her budget to increase funding for mental health workers in schools, as part of a school aid budget that would mark the biggest increase in funding. of education in more than 20 years.

Republican lawmakers also support a tax cut, though they may push for a broader cut. A Senate committee, for example, passed a bill earlier Wednesday that would cut state income and corporation taxes and restore a child tax credit. Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey said he would sit in the Senate while analysis and talks continue.

“I think all the options we can possibly have on the table to get the money back to citizens is a very good thing, and I can’t wait to roll up our sleeves and get involved,” he said. to journalists.


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