Whitmer proposes taxpayer-funded community college, preschool

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(The Center Square) – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer targeted lowering household costs for Michiganders in her sixth State of The State address.

Whitmer called on lawmakers to offer free preschool for all 4-year-olds, two years of free community college for all high school graduates and an Innovation Fund to subsidize Michigan companies.

“Every single Michigander can count on a free public education from pre-K through community college,” Whitmer said. “Let’s get it done.”

Whitmer called on lawmakers to provide a $5,000 tax credit for caregivers caring for an aging or sick relative and a $2,000 electric vehicle tax credit for union-made vehicles.

“What we can do is make life more affordable by lowering costs on the biggest items in your monthly budget,” Whitmer said. “When your paycheck hits your bank account, you know your largest and most important expenses: housing, child care, transportation, education, utilities, and food. “

The address follows Michigan passing a record $82 billion budget for 2023.

Whitmer touted her targeted tax relief to retirees and working families, the 2040 clean energy rule, funding the rainy day fund at nearly $2 billion, and expanding access to a college funding program.

“A mom who can afford a nicer place to live in new housing we’re building, get her associate’s degree tuition-free with Michigan Reconnect, and make more time to study in the mornings because she doesn’t have to pack a lunch for her kids,” Whitmer said. “She can drive them to school on safe roads, where she knows that they will be taught by a skilled educator and receive a public education from pre-K through community college for free. “

The address follows a report saying Michigan is now “one of the nation’s poorest states”, with per capita income falling to 39th in the nation.

It’s unclear what funding will pay for these new programs.

A Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency report shows in fiscal year 2017-18, adjusted total appropriations equaled $55.8 billion. From fiscal year 2017-24, spending ballooned to $82 billion – a spending increase of $26 billion, or 47%.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy says the Good Jobs for Michigan Program created no verified jobs from any of the six companies that received a subsidy.

“Gov. Whitmer’s proposed job program has been a jobless program,” MCPP Director of Fiscal Policy James Hohman said in a statement. “Giving handouts to select companies is not an effective way to improve businesses in the state. Lawmakers should stop chasing headlines and instead look at broad-based reforms that have been proven to improve the state economy.”

The National Federation of Independent Business-Michigan State Director Amanda Fisher called on Whitmer to reject a proposed payroll tax incentive for small businesses that hire more employees.

“NFIB members have always been wary of taxpayer-funded incentives where the government picks who wins and who loses,” Fisher said in a statement. “This proposal does nothing to help those small businesses that are struggling to survive persistent inflation, ever increasing energy costs, and added regulatory burdens. Even if small businesses want to hire, many are unable to find the workers to do so.”

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