Republicans question how Whitmer will pay for plan

Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A day after outlining her vision for Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer visited Grand Rapids Community College Wednesday, trying to drum up support for her education plan which includes debt-free community college.

The question now: Is there common ground to be found between the Republican-controlled Legislature and Democratic governor, or just an old common problem?

“I do believe we can find common ground on this one, especially because as you rightfully pointed out, the last administration recognized how important this was, just weren’t able to make it a reality,” Whitmer told the group at GRCC. “We’re going to make sure that we do, but I am going to need help from everyone here, from everyone who confronts these great programs, who benefited from the programs, from employers who see the value in them because this is about every one of us.”

Republicans also responded Wednesday to Whitmer’s State of the State address.

“We heard a lot of neat ideas last evening and things that the governor thinks should be provided to the citizens of the state,” House Speaker Lee Chatfield said from Lansing.

Chatfield wondered how the governor would pay for all of those “neat ideas.”

“What we didn’t hear is how that revenue will be accumulated,” Chatfield said.

He and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey have questions about the price tag for a lot of what Whitmer laid out, but specifically about free services, like two years of community college for qualifying high school graduates.

“I heard her speak a number of times last night about ‘free.’ Let me give you  little economic lesson here: Free oftentimes cheapens things so much that they become unaffordable,” Shirkey said.

For now, both sides appear to believe a compromise is possible. The next big test will be when Whitmer unveils her budget plan in 20 days.

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