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Whitmer: Budget deal should set stage for bipartisan work to spend federal COVID funds

gretchen whitmer sitting at table

Governor Gretchen Whitmer said Tuesday she is ready to sign budget bills soon after they are adopted by the Legislature and she hopes this will lead to a deal with Republicans to spend several billion dollars of federal COVID recovery funds.

Whitmer told the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual Mackinac Island Conference that the money could be used to help workers upgrade their skills and create new infrastructure.

Earlier, she announced a plan to create a pilot project to develop roads that will wirelessly charge electric vehicles.

The governor said the focus should be on Michigan continuing to be a manufacturing state and a global transportation leader.

“We can do these things,” said Whitmer. “We must do these things. To get it done, we’ve got to work together to make it happen.”

“The bipartisan budget plan that is being voted on now in Lansing and this opportunity with these federal dollars will put Michigan in the driver’s seat,” said Whitmer. “This is an opportunity, and I am excited about where we are and the opportunity to talk about it with all of you.”

The governor said a key element is using the funds to get more workers certified in skilled trades.

“We’ve got an incredible opportunity right now and we cannot waste it,” said Whitmer. “The reasoning behind this plan is as important as what’s in it. Over the past couple of decades, we’ve seen our state walk away from the rich tradition that helped build the middle class.”

Whitmer said she will offer more details on the plans in the coming days.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.