ESCANABA, Mich. (WJMN) – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s trip across the Upper Peninsula would not be complete without a stop at the U.P State Fair. To start off her day in Escanaba she joined veterans and spectators to honor the 2021 U.P. Veteran of the Year, Bill Hager.
Gov. Whitmer then took to the podium at the annual Lunch with the Governor event where she gave remarks wrapping up her time in the Upper Peninsula.
“One of my favorite words is the SISU word,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said. “I often use the word grit and it’s very similar. The spirit of hard work, people that cannot be dissuaded or discouraged, people who show up every day and do the right thing. On this trip, I’ve been reminded of that phrase over and over again. I’ve been to a number of communities, I’ve been to all 15 counties now as Governor, but just in this trip alone from Ironwood to Quinnesec to Ontonagon and Houghton and Lanse and Mohawk and now with all of you.”
After her remarks, she then took questions from the crowd. Housing was a hot topic for the day, where she took the opportunity to discuss not only her proposal for a $100 million dollar investment in affordable housing but also how she plans to help people struggling with COVID-19 related housing issues.
“Whether it’s eviction relief or it is moving dirt and building new affordable housing across the state,” Whitmer said. “There’s no one silver bullet here, at least you gotta move forward on all of these fronts. I think that’s how we best help those who are struggling and trying to get back on their feet.”
Education was a big topic as well. Gov. Whitmer also spoke about her new education budget that she just signed in a few weeks ago.
“$17 billion, without raising taxes $17 billion,” Whitmer said. “That will go toward new textbooks or tablets or teacher raises or social workers and nurses in our schools to support our kids and get them the wraparound support that they need.”
The future of the Line 5 pipeline was also addressed.
“We know that line 5 was supposed to be in the water for about 50 years and it is well over that,” Whitmer said. “We also know that it’s not anchored to the bottom and that it poses a real risk of a dragging anchor grabbing that pipeline and decimating the Great Lakes. We know what that will mean for drinking water, agriculture and tourism with 1.6 million jobs at stake. So, we have moved forward in trying to get that pipeline out of the water. We’re also simultaneously moving forward in order to determine that the agreement that Enbridge had with the previous administration for a tunnel remains in effect, and so those permits are proceeding toward the tunnel, but we’re also working to expedite getting the line out of the water. In the meantime we move forward with the U.P. energy task force that we can build out reliable, cost-effective, sources of energy because we know how important it is not just for the Upper Peninsula much for the Northern Lower Peninsula as well.”
The importance of mental health was also a discussion area that was brought up.
“As we think about behavioral health, as we think about mental health and its connection with physical health, there’s no question that using this opportunity with this surplus that we now have because we managed well through this pandemic, ” Whitmer said. “The federal resources that are coming into Michigan, this is an opportunity for us to rebuild some of those supports that have been gone for many administrations. So, as we complete the Department of Health and Human Services budget which I am hopeful the legislature will be back ready to work on that soon. As we complete that I am committed to ensuring that we are prioritizing mental health because I know that it’s not just some it’s not just a few. This is an issue that everyone is confronted with some extent or another, and we’ve got to make sure we’ve got the support so that people can navigate back to help.”
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