LANSING, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer delivered her third State of the State Address Wednesday night.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, the State of the State Address was held virtually, in compliance with CDC and State of Michigan best practices.
The governor began by reflecting on 2020 and how it impacted Michiganders.
"2020 was a tough year. Despite incredibly hard decisions and dangerous threats, I know my burden has been lighter than many. This year didn't pan out like any of us wanted or imagined. It required compassion, strength, and a lot of Michigan grit," Whitmer said.
While Michigan has lost over 14,000 Michiganders to COVID-19, the governor highlighted Michiganders who have "harnessed empathy and courage."
The governor acknowledged frontline workers in hospitals, grocery stores, child care centers, post offices, police and fire departments, who put their lives on the line to protect Michiganders.
"Our state employees like corrections officers and sanitation workers provided crucial services. And the vast majority of you did your part. In the midst of the worst public health crisis in our lifetimes, the world saw just how tough Michiganders are," she said.
The Michigan House recently elected new leadership and the governor congratulated Speaker Jason Wentworth and Democratic Leader Donna Lasinski, and welcomed back the Senate Leaders: Leader Shirkey and Leader Ananich.
Whitmer says despite all these crisis and the gridlock in Washington, Michigan "took real bipartisan action to get things done" for families in Michigan. The governor signed two bipartisan budgets that prioritized public schools, public safety, and public health.
"We worked together on the bipartisan Michigan Reconnect Program. That's tuition-free job training and community college for adults looking to earn a postsecondary certificate or associate degree. Thanks to Senators Ananich and Horn and Representatives Anthony and Frederick for their leadership on this. And bipartisan Clean Slate Legislation making our criminal justice system more fair and expanding opportunities for Michiganders who have served time. I want to thank the bipartisan group of legislators who helped get this done. And the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus for all of the work they have done on criminal justice reform," said Whitmer.
Since the beginning of pandemic, Whitmer says the state partnered with health insurance providers to waive costs for testing and treatment. Michigan has performed over 9.6 million coronavirus tests, making the state 7th in the nation, Whitmer said.
Michigan is now in the second wave of distributing coronavirus vaccines. The governor says the state has administered over 800,000 vaccines, which making the state 6th in the nation.
"The number of vaccines we have administered has surpassed the number of recorded cases in Michigan," she said.
In the coming months, Whitmer says the vaccine will be available to the general population.
Whitmer also reflected on strengthening the state's economy and fixing the road ahead.
"The coming months will determine the strength of our economic recovery. Let's end this pandemic. Make your plan to get vaccinated, and keep wearing your mask until this pandemic is over. Let's join forces to jumpstart our economy," the governor said.
In December, Whitmer signed a bipartisan $106 million relief bill that directed $55 million to help small businesses impacted by COVID, including restaurant owners.
Last week the governor announced the Michigan COVID Recovery Plan which includes distributing vaccines, getting kids back on track, supporting small businesses and jumpstarting the state's economy.
Whitmer said one of her top priorities in 2021 is growing more great jobs for Michigan workers. During the State of the State Address, the governor announced Michigan Back To Work; a plan to help grow the state's economy and get "Michiganders back on their feet."
"We will leverage all of the resources of state government to rebuild our economy back better. Working with leaders in state and federal government, business, and beyond to grow good-paying Michigan jobs. Over the next year, we will announce initiatives and projects big and small – from tech, mobility and manufacturing growth, to clean energy and road construction. This will protect, grow, and create more good paying jobs," said Whitmer.
Lastly, the governor thanked the state of Michigan for doing their part.
"To those of you who stepped up and did your part, who listened to medical experts, stayed home, wore a mask, helped out a neighbor, and practiced social distancing – your action saved lives. Your action ensured that more Michiganders will be able to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas 2021 with their loved ones," the governor said.
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