Video: Lawmakers on gov. agenda of equal pay, auto insurance reform

    Gretchen Whitmer (left) and Garlin Gilchrist II (right), Jan. 7, 2019 | Ken Coleman

    As Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ramps up to reveal her first budget next month, Republican and Democratic lawmakers, not surprisingly, are hoping to hear different things.

    The Advance interviewed legislators following Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s first State of the State address on Tuesday.

    Democrats tended to praise her for highlighting long-term problems in state government like low morale and outdated technology, issues they see as having been ignored during the tenure of Republican former Gov. Rick Snyder.

    Republicans, meanwhile, tended to say that her ambitious ideas for fixing infrastructure and improving workforce development lacked concrete details when it comes to cost. GOP lawmakers acknowledged that many of those specifics are expected next month when Whitmer unveils her first budget proposal.

    “I would have liked to have seen a few more details in her speech,” state Sen. Tom Barrett (R-Potterville) told reporters following Whitmer’s address to the Legislature, adding that he’s waiting to see the governor’s budget proposal before weighing in on issues like fixing roads. “I’m going to wait and and see what the governor proposes here in the next few weeks.”

    Barrett lamented that reforming the state’s no-fault auto insurance law only got a brief mention during the governor’s speech. The topic has been identified by Republicans as a key priority during this legislative term, as it has in several past terms.

    “That’s the biggest issue I hear from my constituents, is the high cost of auto insurance,” Barrett said, adding that around one third of Michigan residents drive without insurance because they can’t afford it.

    That number is mostly in line with the findings of a report last year done by the Insurance Research Council and the Hanover Insurance Group, which placed Michigan in the top five for drivers without insurance.

    State Sen. Rosemary Bayer (D-Beverly Hills), meanwhile, praised Whitmer for her calls to ensure that women are paid equally as men.

    “I’m a woman in business,” said Bayer, a technology company executive. “I love the idea that we promote and support having equal pay for equal work.”

    Nick Manes
    Nick Manes covers West Michigan, business and labor, health care and the safety net. He previously spent six years as a reporter at MiBiz covering commercial real estate, economic development and all manner of public policy at the local and state levels. His byline also has appeared in Route Fifty and The Daily Beast. When not reporting around the state or furiously tweeting, he enjoys spending time with his girlfriend, Krista, biking around his hometown of Grand Rapids and torturing himself rooting for the Detroit Lions.
    Casey Hull
    Casey Hull is a freelance photographer and videographer. He was a reporter for the Capital News Service at Michigan State University.

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