Whitmer seeks common ground with Legislature to end pandemic

LANSING (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer sought “common ground” with the Republican-led Legislature in her State of the State address Wednesday, calling for quick passage of a multibillion-dollar relief plan that would prioritize coronavirus vaccinations and additional aid to Michigan schools and businesses to help end the pandemic.

The $5.6 billion spending proposal, first announced last week, was among several policy initiatives outlined in the Democrat's third annual speech — a virtual one in which she touted residents' grit in a grueling crisis that has claimed thousands of lives.

“The state of our state is resilience,” the governor said.

The address came hours after GOP lawmakers stepped up opposition to her administration's COVID-19 restrictions, rejecting 13 of Whitmer's appointees and saying the funding should not be approved unless she cedes her administration’s power to prohibit activities such as high school sports to local health departments.

“While common ground seems less and less common these days, it’s never been more important that we work toward it,” Whitmer said. “I know you’re used to me saying ‘fix the damn roads.’ This year, let’s also fix the damn road ahead — find common ground to grow our economy and get families and businesses back on their feet. That starts by ending the pandemic.”

The virus, which has resulted in 600,000-plus cases in Michigan and contributed to the deaths of more than 15,300 residents in 10 months, continues to dominate the governor's attention.

She delivered the 24-minute speech virtually from her office inside the Capitol rather than in person to protect hundreds of legislators and dignitaries who typically would gather in a packed House chamber.


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