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Whitmer declines to talk GM layoffs; meeting with CEO "in the works"

Gretchen Whitmer
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says a sit-down meeting between her and General Motors CEO Mary Barra is "in the works."

GM’s plans to close five plants, including two in Michigan, attracted President Trump’s vocal displeasure, and an outcry from the leaders of affected cities.

But Whitmer says she isn’t willing to discuss the issue until she’s had a chance to sit down with Barra.

“I understand how people are feeling, but until I’ve got more information directly from the company, I’m not going to go so far as to castigate anyone,” Whitmer said.

Speaking from the floor of the North American International Auto Show, which she toured on Tuesday, Whitmer says she’s confident Michigan will remain a global center of what many now call the mobility industry.

“This is where mobility of the future is going to continue to be led from,” Whitmer said.

Whitmer also discussed the federal partial government shutdown, which is now in its fourth week. While offering few details, she said the state is making contingency plans for when federal funds start to run out.

“My directors are all in the process of ascertaining which programs are going to be most affected earliest on, so we’ve got a plan to make sure that people are protected,” Whitmer said. “I am hopeful that the federal government gets their act together and re-opens, but in the short term we’re going to make sure that we minimize the impact of that.”

“Whether it is in food stamps, or it is in unemployment, there are a lot of things that are happening at the state level we are going to make sure people are aware of so they can get the help they need in the short term. And I hope that it is short term,” she said.

About one-third of Michigan’s budget comes from federal dollars. The biggest expenditure is the state’s Medicaid program.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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