Governor Gretchen Whitmer visited the U.P. State Fair for the first time today. After taking a tour of the fairgrounds she helped honor the 2019 U.P. Veteran of the Year before speaking at the annual ‘Lunch with the Governor’ event.
“While I may be a “troll” because I live below the bridge, I am someone who thinks about where I might go towards the end of my career and there’s a very real possibility that I might become a transplant and become a yooper myself,” says Governor Whitmer. “I don’t know if you like that thought or not but it is what it is.”
The Governor spoke about her plans for the future in addition to answering questions from the audience. Topics included job training, global warming, mental health care, and the Line Five pipeline.
Currently, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is suing Enbridge and moving to shut down line five. Enbridge is suing Michigan to enforce an agreement made with former Governor Rick Snyder that would have allowed Enbridge to build a tunnel to encase the pipeline.
“Even though Enbridge is suing me right now, we’re working with them to make ensure that they can get the data they need if we move forward with the tunnel,” explains Governor Whitmer. “My goal as Governor is two-fold; one, to make sure that people in the Upper Peninsula and the northern part of the Lower Peninsula have access to affordable energy, and two, to protect the Great Lakes.”
The Governor continued to say that she created the U.P. Energy Task Force to find alternate ways to get energy to the U.P. She also says that, following the completion of court cases, she will continue to work with Enbridge to negotiate and research the viability of a tunnel surrounding line five.
Congressman Jack Bergman also commented on the pipeline.
“We need to be thinking 50 to 100 years down the line. Number one we’re not going to be doing anything that endangers the water in the Great Lakes, because they’re our lifeblood in so many different ways. Number two the jobs and the ability for people, especially here in the U.P., to heat their homes that is provided by pipeline five…we need to keep that working.”
Governor Whitmer also spoke about the Michigan state budget, which has not been passed.
Governor Whitmer says, “I’m focused on trying to get a budget done. The most important thing we do as state government is make the priorities of the people and make it reflect in the state budget…I’m not looking to lay blame, I’m just looking to fix problems.”
The Governor referenced what she said was a “2.5 billion dollar infrastructure problem” in Michigan. She said this includes making sure communities have new pipes to deliver clean water to homes and having broadband internet access across the state.
Governor Whitmer also referenced her 45 cent gas tax, saying it was necessary in order to fix Michigan roads. She said that previous governors used money from the general fund to fix roads and infrastructure which then took funds away from other areas.
“When we actually fix it at the pump, every dime is constitutionally protected, so it goes to roads and bridges and infrastructure needs,” explains Governor Whitmer.
The Governor says that she hopes to have a budget passed by the start of the fiscal year, which is next month.