Gov. Whitmer holds town hall discussions ahead of State of the State

Posted at 5:23 PM, Jan 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-24 17:31:48-05

BRIGHTON, Mich. (WXYZ) — The day before her fifth State of the State address in Lansing, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer took time to hold two small roundtable discussions Tuesday.

She met with a group in Brighton to learn about the issues they are most concerned about.

“We want to talk today about the central issues affecting our state and to share your hopes for Michigan," she told one.

Our cameras were rolling as Whitmer met with eight everyday citizens at the Brighton Lighthouse.

“I'm a retired police officer I spent 25 years at the city of Ann Arbor Police Department. I now work as a private security guard to supplement my pension,” Shane Dennis said.

It was an hour-long discussion where the governor did most of the listening including with that retired officer who wants the pension tax repealed and so does a retired teacher.

“The pension tax is huge. Obviously, it will put money back in my pocket, even though I'm retired,” Cynthia Pearson-Matthews said.

“I just lost my husband last year May of cancer. I have two adult children and I'm here to help repeal the tax for all my colleagues,” Pearson-Matthews added.

One guy taking part is unemployed, and the governor told him help is available. Another participant has three daughters. One has already left the state.

“What can we do to keep those graduates, brain drain here in Michigan? Do something to keep those people here,” Hartland father Dane Morris said.

Bread and butter issues like inflation were top of mind for this breast cancer survivor and mother of a 10-year-old.

“Making ends meet. I'm a single mom and it's difficult with the price of groceries right now and housing is very expensive. I'm concerned about that as well as education,” Howell mom Jennifer Jager said.

“I hope that when you see the State of the State, you see this," the governor said, adding that it's important for her to get out of the governor's mansion to keep a pulse on what Michiganders need most before she inks a final budget two weeks from now.

“Learning from different perspectives from people across the state helps inform the work that I do, where we spend our energy, what I write into the budget," Whitmer said.

The governor's fifth State of the State address is Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Lansing.