Governor Whitmer Focused on Right Issues During Annual State of the State Address, But Missed a Beat With Vague Proposals and Odd Song Lyrics

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer delivered her sixth annual State of the State address this week. While we agree with the governor about the policy areas that need attention, we believe different approaches are necessary for these important issue areas. 

The governor’s bizarre use of ‘80s song lyrics also distracted from the content of the address and, quite frankly, was a bit tone-deaf. It was a tough decade for many Michigan families. We dealt with the worst unemployment rate in the nation, an economy that nearly collapsed and a net outmigration loss of close to a half-million people during various parts of the 1980s. A State of the State address should be an economic and policy speech, not America’s Top 40.

Jase Bolger, WMPF policy advisor, quipped: “Former Gov. Granholm had her infamous “You’re Gonna Be Blown Away” moment during a State of the State address; Gov. Whitmer’s extremely odd 1980s song remix may just be called her ‘Take My Breath Away’ moment.”


First, the governor’s emphasis on economic development proposals should be lauded. Michigan must do a better job attracting good-paying jobs for our families. But instead of targeted tax credits that pick winners and losers, we need to take a cue from the fastest-growing states in our country and enact policies that free everyone to create and grow jobs in our state.

We also commend Gov. Whitmer for talking about education reforms because all children deserve the best chance at success in life. We simply disagree on how to get there. For example, we recommend a proposal to fund students, not systems: because every child is unique and all children deserve access to a quality education. The state should offer every child access to all options that may work for them; regardless of their zip code or family’s income via Education Savings Accounts (ESAs). 

We also all need to work together to end our state’s massive population decline and create good-paying jobs for our families. Just this week, it was reported that Michigan’s personal income per capita dropped from 16th nationally in 1999 to 39th in 2022. That’s unacceptable. 

We recently recommended policy initiatives to the governor’s population council to help reverse Michigan’s population loss. Some of those proposals include:

  • Removing barriers for work by reforming licensing regulations.
  • Giving workers the freedoms they deserve by reinstating Right-to-work.
  • Eliminating Michigan’s personal income tax because it is essential that the overall tax burden on state residents does not increase.
  • Moving the Michigan Economic Development Corporation away from offering incentives and instead to removing barriers.
  • Achieving clear school accountability measures by making sure every child learns to read by the third grade so they can read to learn for the rest of their life. 


One other important note: We did not hear the governor talk about how she’s going to pay for some of her proposals, especially expanding the Michigan Reconnect program and universal pre-K. It won’t encourage people to come to or stay in Michigan by handing out free community college credits and free pre-K. We need more career opportunities in Michigan for workers.

As we see other states continue to grow, we need to understand that Michigan clearly isn’t competing well enough. And the governor’s address unfortunately didn’t give us much confidence to believe we’re on the right path to truly help the people of Michigan. Please contact the governor now and urge her to advocate for policies that have been proven to actually grow jobs and increase a state’s population.