MI Election 2018: Gretchen Whitmer

Oct 24, 2018

WKAR is speaking with all six of the candidates running to be Michigan's next governor about water, education, healthcare and other issues facing the state. Morning Edition host Emily Fox interviewed Democratic nominee Gretchen Whitmer.


  

EMILY FOX:

In your mind what’s the most pressing problem facing the state right now and how do you plan to fix it?

GRETCHEN WHITMER:

I think we’ve got a number of glaring issues we’ve got to confront as a state. But there’s no question that our infrastructure is dangerously behind. Whether it is drinking water into our communities and into our homes, or it is the roads that we’re driving on, this is one of the fundamentals that we have not made the investments in and that we’re all paying. Whether you’re paying to buy bottled water, or you’re paying to fix your tires, or replace your windshield, we’re all paying for this failure and that’s why I’m leading on a real plan to fix our infrastructure here in Michigan.

FOX:

What does that plan look like? How do we get there?  

WHITMER:

It’s built around a Rebuild Michigan Infrastructure Bank and it is about rebuilding our roads smarter, so that when we dig up a road we use the opportunity to lay conduit, to get everyone connected high-speed broadband, that we replace the water infrastructure that is bringing the water into our homes and that we rebuild with better mix and materials with warranties so our roads will be built to last and we can stop paying to fix the windshields because our roads are a quality and safe.

FOX:

Water is a big resource in our state. What are your thoughts on outside sources such as states or companies taking water from the Great Lakes and it’s basin?

WHITMER:

We are blessed with abundance. We are home to 21% of the world’s freshwater within and around our borders. It is something that we’ve taken for granted as a state. We’ve permitted corporate threats, we’ve permitted outside threats to our water and it is time to get a handle on it. We’ve got great research universities. We’re sitting in the middle of one right now at MSU. Let’s use the research universities, the water and the brains of this state and become the place that people come to, to learn about stewardship of water and we protect the water that we have, we shut down threats to our drinking water and we clean it up so every person in our state can confidently bathe their kids and give them a glass of water at the dinner table.

FOX:

So let’s say California said, ‘We’re running out. Michigan we want to tap your Great Lakes,’ you would be a part of the Great Lakes Compact where you would have a voice in deciding that, what would your stance be on something like that?

WHITMER:

We’ve got a duty to protect our water and I’m going to fiercely do that and work with Republicans and Democrats in all of the Great Lakes states to make sure that we are protecting our water through this Great Lakes Compact.

FOX:

In your mind, what are the biggest issues facing education right now and how do you plan to fix it?

WHITMER:

One of the reasons that Amazon did not locate their HQ2 here in Michigan, they cited talent and a concern about talent. That’s why the plan that I’ve put on the table starts with universal early childhood education and extends through making sure that you can get affordable four-year degree or a debt-free two-year degree or a path into the skilled trades. Because there’s not one path for everyone, but everyone in our state deserves a path and it starts with skills and that’s what education is all about.

FOX:

Where would the funding come from to make higher education less expensive, to fund early childhood development?

WHITMER:

These are the kinds of investments that have such a huge return. My opportunity scholarship, it’s called My Opportunity Scholarship, a part of my economic plan, it only costs about $100 million and I know to the average listener that sounds like a big number, but in a budget that is about $56 billion, that’s a small part of our resources that would make a massive improvement in all of our lives. It’s the rising tide theory, when we have more people, a concentration of talent, everyone’s lives are improved because the wages go up and we all benefit from that. So closing the skills gap has got be a priority already and when we do that, we all benefit.

FOX:

What’s your vision for healthcare in the state?

WHITMER:

I worked incredibly hard and crossed the aisle to work with Rick Snyder. I was the Senate Democratic leader, he was the Republican governor, we didn’t see eye to eye on lot of things. But when he embraced the Affordable Care Act and wanted to expand Medicaid here in Michigan, I crossed the aisle and negotiated and put the votes together we got it to his desk and 680,000 people in our state got healthcare coverage. $2.3 billion of benefit to our economy, 30,000 jobs. This is been a good thing for Michigan. We’re going to protect the work we did in a bipartisan manner, we’re going to expand on it.