Gov. Gretchen Whitmer visited Brighton Tuesday morning to preview some of the topics she plans to discuss in her upcoming State of the State address on Wednesday and to hear from constituents.

Whitmer’s office chose the Brighton Light House as one of two locations for a roundtable discussion with area residents. Seven residents were invited to attend and share concerns on several topics, telling the second-term governor what they think about inflation, her support for the pension tax repeal bill, education, health care and other issues they face.

Whitmer said her State of the State address will focus on the people, particularly working people, recent graduates and children. She also noted that her appeal will address gun safety measures and more investment in law enforcement, mental health and education.

“We know that with inflation and the pandemic, it’s been difficult for a lot of people to just do basic responsibilities, … put food on the table, fill up the gas tank, get groceries,” Whitmer said.

She talked about how earlier this month she and Michigan lawmakers announced bills to repeal the pension tax and expand tax credits for working families.

She said tax credits for working families are “a way to help families out of poverty.”

“There are millions of children living in these families who will be affected by this policy,” she said.

She also called for relief for pensioners living on a fixed income by scrapping the pension tax.

“I’m going to focus on these new high school, vocational school and college graduates,” she said. “They will be making decisions about where to build their lives, so they need good-paying jobs. They need a pathway to skills that won’t put them in debt for decades, and they also need to know that their basic rights are And so creating those pathways, making more people eligible for free skills, to codifying individual rights.”

In her remarks, she also prioritizes “the littlest Michiganders” and making sure kids get the support they need in school to learn for life, get good-paying jobs and stay safe.

She said her State of the State address will also address “common sense safety measures, investments in law enforcement and mental health supports and investments in our schools.”

The roundtable was moderated by Debbie Mikula, executive director of the Michigan Library Association, who introduced discussion topics for participants. Topics included inflation, public schools, health care, law enforcement and the pension tax.

Cynthia Pearson-Matthews, a teacher in Detroit Public Schools, said inflation is the problem.

“I think when people understand what inflation means. They don’t understand that if you keep buying, things will go up,” she said. “Inflation will go down if they stop buying so much.”

She supported teaching high school finance to combat inflation.

“It affects a lot of teachers who have to take second jobs,” Pearson-Matthews said. “They are tired.”

Shane Dennis, a retired police officer, said he was affected by inflation and supported scrapping the pension tax. He said he works as a private security guard to earn income along with his pension.

According to him, the cancellation of the pension tax “will put money back into my pocket” and will help in the recruitment of new security forces.

Contact Livingston Daily reporter Jennifer Eberbach at

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