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Whitmer looking forward to better relationship with White House, making plans for economic recovery

Gretchen Whitmer at a podium

Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she’s looking forward to a better relationship with the White House once President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

Whitmer is a frequent Trump critic and Trump famously criticized her as “that woman from Michigan.” She is a co-chair of Biden’s inauguration planning committee.

Whitmer says she expects help from the Biden administration on some critical initiatives in its first federal budget proposal.

“I’m feeling very optimistic about the way they are attacking and creating a national strategy that has been lacking, frankly, over the course of 2020,” Whitmer said.

That includes money for the Great Lakes and other environmental projects; funding for dams, bridges, and roads; getting more doses of COVID-19 vaccines, and protective equipment for frontline workers. 

“These are all things that I’m really focused on and working with the President-elect’s team so they know what’s important to Michigan as they are setting forth their agenda for the first 100 days and beyond,” she said.

Whitmer says a wider vaccination program will accelerate a full re-opening of Michigan’s schools and businesses.

“So, first and foremost, getting people vaccinated and having a strategic national plan to get our arms around this virus is crucial to our economy.”

The governor also says she’s making plans to try to accelerate an economic recovery.

Whitmer says she hoped when she took office that a thriving economy would set the stage to help more workers earn degrees and skilled trades certification.

She says that would help more people find the best-paying jobs, especially in the manufacturing sector. She says the COVID-19 pandemic altered those plans.

“We announced a record number of jobs, you know, in 2019 around autos. In 2020, obviously, the whole world kind of turned upside down.”

The governor wants to build on an initiative launched earlier this year to help frontline health care workers earn associate’s or bachelor’s degrees for free.

“Certainly having some tools in our economic development tool kit is really important.”

Whitmer will outline her plans early next year with her State of the State address and budget proposal.

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