May 13, 2020
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer Press Conference Transcript May 13
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Wednesday, May 13 press conference on COVID-19. She pleaded for discipline regarding the stay-at-home order as protests continue in Michigan. Read the full transcript of her news briefing speech here.
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Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (00:00)
… go without action. And we’ll pull back if necessary. Like Dr. Fauci said in his testimony yesterday, reopening too quickly will trigger another outbreak that we can’t control. And none of us, none of us wants that. The red area on this slide shows us that without the stay home, stay safe order, the median estimate is that we would have had 32,000 more cases today and at least 3,480 more deaths. Not to mention that we would have likely overwhelmed our healthcare system. And so outcomes for those positive cases would have been worse.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (00:44)
I’ll continue to closely monitor data and receive on the ground feedback from our local health departments, regional health care councils and our health systems. And if necessary, we’ll have move back, based on those factors that I cited moments ago. So remember, this depends on every single one of us. There was a map in the New York Times that showed Michigan activity has increased. That’s concerning.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (01:11)
It’s concerning because we know that you don’t see the impact of a decision until about two weeks. And so right now, there are a lot of signs to feel positive about. But if this activity from the last week results in a spike, we’ll see it next week. And we may have to take action, or slow down. And that’s why it’s so critical that everyone continues to do their part.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (01:31)
Every one of us has a role to play. And the vast majority of people in our state have been playing that role and doing it well, thank you. But let’s not let our guard down now. It would be a travesty if the sacrifice we’ve made was made in vain, and we see numbers climb because we’ve dropped these social distancing and safety practices. So please keep it up.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (01:58)
Today I’m joined by business leaders from across the state who are committed to ensuring the safety of their employees and their customers. Rachel Lutz from the Peacock Room and boutique in Detroit has moved her business to online sales, curbside pickup, and porch delivery. She’s gotten creative to meet the needs of her customers and doing so in a way that is safe. Last week, she hosted a Facebook live event where she showed off items in her store for people to claim via Facebook comments and messages. She’s found creative ways to engage with her customers while also ensuring their safety.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (02:37)
Maureen Francis from Coldwell Banker Real Estate is the president of the Michigan Realtors Association. We reopened real estate activities for Michiganders on May 7th. And Maureen is going to talk about the measures that realtors across our state are taking to protect themselves and their clients. Rachel and Maureen and businesses like theirs are doing the right thing to protect people around them. They’re committed to ensuring the safety of their employees and their customers as we continue fighting this virus.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (03:11)
And I want to thank them, and every Michigander and business that has stepped up in the past nine weeks, keep going, keep going. I know this is hard, but every person doing their part could mean less time that we spend fighting this virus, less lives lost, less economic pain. Every person who keeps doing their part will help contribute to us reaching the next phase of engagement.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (03:38)
So please continue reaching out to your loved ones, whether you’re living with them, or it’s over the phone, or over Zoom. Like my friend Mo Hood, who I mentioned earlier, used to say, “Enjoy your family, enjoy your spouses. Tell them that you love them every day, because tomorrow might not be here.” Stay in touch, stay safe, and please keep doing your part. I promise I’ll continue to do mine. With that, I’d like to invite Dr. J. Up to the podium.
Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun: (04:17)
Thank you, Governor. I like to also share my condolences to the family of Senator Hood. As of today, Michigan has 48,391 cases of COVID- 19 and 4,714 deaths. The number of cases per day, per million people, which is how we measure it, continues to decline at the state level. However, not all regions are experiencing the same decline. While we are seeing cases declining significantly in Southeastern Michigan, this area of the state still has the highest daily number of deaths per million people, compared to other regions of the state.
Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun: (04:58)
We’re also seeing new case counts in Western Michigan, similar to those in Southeast Michigan. We also know that our local health departments are actively investigating COVID-19 clusters in multiple parts of the state. Identifying these clusters, aiding facilities and stopping the spread of these outbreaks and supporting those infected by the disease, are critical parts of our public health response.
Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun: (05:25)
The best way to identify these clusters is through testing, which we keep reiterating. We are continuing to ramp up our testing across the state. We’ve performed more than 317,000 tests in the state so far, and we’ve been surpassing 10,000 tests a day for the past several days. As testing increases, the percent of those testing positive also continues to decline. And since March, we’ve had an overall positivity rate of 18.1%. And on Sunday May 10th, we hit our all time low at a rate of 6.3% being positive.
Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun: (06:04)
This means that our efforts are working. People who have adhered to the governors, stay home, stay safe, order and social distancing measures have saved lives. Without these measures, as the governor mentioned, we estimate that Michigan would have seen over 32,000 additional cases of COVID-19 and over 3,400 additional deaths. This shows how critical prevention will be in Michigan as we move forward. Basic measures like social distancing, wearing masks and washing our hands really has to remain a part of our lives as we move forward.
Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun: (06:42)
I want to talk about our elderly population, because they are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 we are continuing to closely monitor our nursing care facilities in this state. And we’re getting a clearer picture as more nursing care facilities report information on COVID-19. As of this past Monday, there were 3,089 cases in 464 nursing facilities in Michigan. And that represents about 6% of total cases of COVID-19 across the state.
Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun: (07:13)
We’re continuing to expand our COVID-19 regional hubs in the state. We now have 21 of these designated nursing facilities that care for longterm care patients suspected, or confirmed to have COVID-19, but do not require hospital care. We’ve also shared updated guidance and best practices for these hubs and continue to work with our local health departments to expand testing and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun: (07:43)
I also have to say how grateful I am for the leadership of our local health departments. They really are on the frontline of battling this disease in their communities. The Saginaw County Health Department is partnering with a federally qualified health center to expand testing in minority populations. The Ingham County Health Department is actually using its own mobile dental clinic to expand testing in its community. And there are many, many more examples across our state of our local health officers really providing leadership and fighting this disease on the ground.
Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun: (08:16)
It’s this type of commitment and resolve that will make the difference in our fight against COVID-19 in this state. Whether again, it’s our local health departments, our hospitals, our business sector, or our state leadership, including all of you out in the public. Social distancing is working. Our numbers are improving, but we are still seeing many more cases every day and more deaths. I encourage everyone to remain diligent, to be patient, as we continue to monitor this public health crisis and slowly look to reopening our economy. Thank you.
Good afternoon. On behalf of over 34,000 members of Michigan realtor, I’d like to thank Governor Whitmer and her team for her trust for working cooperatively with us and for putting the real estate industry back to work in a safe and thoughtful manner. We appreciate the difficulty of the decisions that the governor has made to protect the health of Michigan citizens as we begin to move our state’s economy forward.
There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has impacted Michigan’s spring real estate market, but the only way to overcome the uncertainty created by the pandemic is to approach the buying and selling of real estate with a focus on safety, knowledge, and outstanding service to our clients. The good news is that as we’ve resumed in person contact over the past week, we’ve seen a vibrant market for both buyers and sellers. Interest in real estate investment in Michigan is strong. Of course, reopening the real estate industry does not mean business as usual…
…. the real estate industry does not mean business as usual. It’s important for all realtors and our clients to understand the requirements under the executive orders and more than anything, it’s important that the client feels safe and comfortable with the whole process. Realtors need to respect and protect the safety concerns of their clients. As the executive order requires, buyers and sellers should do as much remotely as possible. This helps buyers narrow their search and protects sellers from unnecessary showings. For those unfamiliar with the real estate requirements under the executive order, the following must be adhered to. All in person meetings with clients and customers must be done by appointment. There can be no more than four people on a property at any one time. In-person open houses are not allowed. Individuals must maintain six feet social distance at all times. In-person showings of rental units are not permitted until after the current tenant vacates the property.
As realtors, when we learned that we would be one of the first business sectors reopened, we felt an overwhelming responsibility to promote additional best practices and serve as a resource for our members and the public. In an effort to protect ourselves and our clients, brokerages are implementing many of the following best practices. Realtors are doing as much work as virtually as possible. We’re using photographs, virtual showings, videos, marketing materials, and floor plans to help buyers prior to any in-person showings. Realtors are working together to avoid overlapping appointments. We’re asking sellers to turn on lights, leave interior doors, drapes, and blinds open to ensure that no one has to touch anything on the property during a showing. We request cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces prior to and after showings. We’re asking clients to meet us at the property rather than driving together.
We’re encouraging the use of masks and gloves, as well as buyers to refrain from touching any surface while viewing a property and not to share phones, pens, or tablets with their agent. Finally, we’re limiting the time physically at the property. After a showing, rather than talking with our clients while still onsite, we suggest waiting to do this later by email or by phone. As we begin working with clients in person again, realtors must be careful and considerate as we prepare all new ways of helping Michiganders buy, sell, and lease property. We understand this pandemic is impacting every Michigan citizen uniquely. Realtors are grateful to resume work by operating intelligently, compassionately and responsibly to best serve those clients who choose to call Michigan home.
Rachel Lutz: (12:58)
Good afternoon. My name is Rachel Lutz, I’m the owner of four clothing boutiques in Detroit, including the Peacock Room. I built my businesses just after the great recession with no capital by maxing out a credit card. As of last year, we did over $1 million in revenue and I employ about 20 women. It broke my heart to lay them all off. I think of them every day, and I miss my customers dearly. Retailers are worried about what our future looks like. We are an essential part of Michigan’s economy, and we are the glue that keeps our paychecks within our own neighborhoods and towns. This virus has ravaged my business. It’s also ravaged my community. I’ve lost three friends to COVID-19 and I’ve lost count of how many friends have lost parents or loved ones.
Rachel Lutz: (13:45)
The term consumer confidence has never struck me as so literal before. A vast majority of my customers don’t want to go out. If I reopen my doors to the public too early, what am I reopening to? I cannot survive with 80% less revenue and even a fraction of the same overhead costs. I’m grateful that we are waiting until my customers and employees feel safe. After the governor deems it safe to reopen retail stores, I will be requiring masks for anyone wishing to enter my business. I will not allow a few recent violent events in the context of many millions of store visits in the state of Michigan to intimidate me into not enforcing this policy. I will not be bullied into not protecting my staff and my customers. Thankfully, my building provides a hand washing sink nearby, and I plan to provide hand sanitizer as well to my customers. We will practice social distancing and we will wear masks ourselves.
Rachel Lutz: (14:45)
I’d like to stress that each retail store is unique, not just because our small business offer special merchandise and experiences, but because we all have different clientele, logistics, types of merchandise, and we’re located in different neighborhoods.
Rachel Lutz: (15:02)
Each retail store must come up with the strategy that works best for them and follow the guidelines set out by the CDC and the state of Michigan. I want to address my fellow shopkeepers in rural areas or those areas that have not been deemed hotspots for COVID. Please understand you are not immune to this virus, and neither is your community. The governor’s efforts to reopen retail won’t be a magic wand for us. They’ll be the first step of many things that we’ll need to do to adapt to this new landscape. We have a long road ahead and we need to take a measured and thoughtful approach that is safe and will allow us to sustain our businesses so that we can continue to serve our customers and serve our neighborhoods. Our strategies will need to change and we’ll need to do different and maybe unfamiliar things to survive.
Rachel Lutz: (15:56)
It’s time to get creative and stay hopeful. I’m glad that our curbside and our delivery systems have been working in a way that’s allowing us to distance from our customers and still serve them. Out of necessity, I just did my first Facebook Live video. The Peacock Room had a record sales day within two hours after nine years of business. I still haven’t even built an online store yet, but I’m exhilarated at the thought of what’s possible when strategizing in new ways. Thank you so much to the governor for having me and thank you also to Dr. Khaldoon and Jeff Donofrio for hearing small businesses and protecting us.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (16:37)
Thank you, Maureen. Thank you, Rachel. Dr. J, as always. I’m happy to open it up for some questions at this point.
Speaker 3: (16:51)
Governor, you mentioned the New York Times data that came out showing that Michiganders haven’t been staying home in the last week at the rate they have been previously. Are you worried that people are no longer complying with the stay-at-home order? And do you expect to have to extend the order because of that?
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (17:10)
Well, we would expect to see a little more movement because we have released and started to reengage sectors of our economy, and not having had the ability to really understand the data that they’re using to make these maps and ensure that it really is reflective of what we’re seeing here on the ground … I am concerned the more that people are out and about. That’s how COVID-19 spreads and we’ve done a wonderful job.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (17:38)
If you have seen any of the slides … I don’t know if we’ve got one that we can put up, but I had CNN on earlier today and they were showing … Okay, there was a different slide that I was thinking about, but that’s okay. They were showing Michigan is one of the states where we were lit up as green because our numbers have dropped. And there were not a lot of states that were in that category. Most were static or increasing. The work that we’ve done has paid off, but we know with a two week lag time, we see the benefit of that work. Not immediately, it takes a little while, and so if we stop doing that work, we will see the pain of that. It’ll take a couple of weeks. And so my concern of course, is that we have to stay disciplined and it’s really hard.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (18:23)
I get it. We’re predicted to have some 80 degree days coming up. It was gorgeous last night. You want to get outside and there’s nothing wrong with getting outside, but so long as you are doing so in a smart way, wearing your mask. Movement in and of itself isn’t the problem. The problem is when people are doing that and they’re not observing the best practices. So, where the masks, stay six feet away from others, make sure you’re hand washing and really don’t get out if you don’t really need to. You’re always safer at home. And, for especially people that are vulnerable, that is going to be the rule as opposed to the exception for quite a while. And, I think this is something that we’ve all got to continue doing our part.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (19:08)
We drop our guard now, all of our sacrifice will have been in vain and we’ll be right back where we were, and that’s why we’ve all got to continue to stay disciplined here and keep doing the right thing.
Speaker 3: (19:18)
And if in two weeks we see that there is a consequence and there is a spike in cases, could there be a stay-at-home extension?
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (19:27)
Well I mean, as I’ve said, as I’ve said the whole time through, we’re going to keep making decisions based on the epidemiology and the data. The good news from where we are now from where we were eight weeks ago is we have built up our PPE. The good news is that we are doing a lot more testing. We’re building up our tracing. And so, if and when there is a spike, we’ll be in a much better position to address it and identify it. But if this is community spread across the state, like we saw eight weeks ago, it would make it more likely that we have to continue a stay home posture, and that’s the last thing …
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (20:03)
… It more likely that we have to continue a stay home posture and that’s the last thing any of us wants, so everyone needs to keep doing their part.
Speaker 4: (20:06)
Speaker 5: (20:09)
Governor, this may be for you or Dr. Caldoon. This morning, Director Gordon was talking to a senate oversight committee and he said that the data coming from nursing homes wasn’t up to speed and he didn’t have confidence in that information. When can we see the state have accurate information coming from nursing homes? And do you believe that we’re seeing a lower or a higher death rate in some of these regional hubs than what we’re seeing right now?
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (20:36)
I’m going to hand this one over to Dr. J. You’re right.
Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun: (20:42)
Thank you for your question. You’re right. I’ll tell you our data reporting systems, there’s no question that they were outdated. And so now, we are trying to catch up and see we’re providing accurate data to the community and so that we understand the outbreak. So, you’re right. The deaths are all self-reported right now and we don’t believe that they are accurate. I know we’ll be working on developing and improving our system over the next week or two and being able to get that data out for the public. But it’s absolutely something that we’re working on.
Speaker 5: (21:12)
With all do respect, we’ve heard that for a couple of weeks now. Can we expect to see some sort of update sooner than one to two weeks?
Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun: (21:22)
Great question. We actually have improved our data. Initially, we weren’t reporting anything, right? And so I sit here and said, “We’re going to work on it.” And so, we improved that. The data as far as cases is accurate on the website. And even though in the beginning it wasn’t, like two or three weeks ago … That the case data was good. But again, there’s a difference between the cases and the actual deaths. We have to make sure we’re actually looking at death certificates, we know that they actually are matched with a particular nursing facility, and that’s an additional step that we know we need to take.
Speaker 5: (21:50)
Speaker 6: (21:56)
Governor, you listed off earlier some of the criteria for advancing the state under your safe start plan from phase three to phase four. You mentioned things like decline more sharply, percent positivity decreasing, healthcare capacity continues to strengthen. The same is true moving from four to five. These seem very subjective standards. Why not put forth some numerical thresholds and say, “Okay, when we get to this percent of positive case tests or this number of new cases or this number of deaths, that’s when we move,” so everyone can see, okay, here’s the line we need to get to?
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (22:36)
A couple of things, then. If you want to add something, feel free Dr. J. This is a novel virus. COVID-19 is a virus unlike anything anyone’s seen before. We are learning a tremendous amount in a very short period of time. We know we’re in a much better position today than we were four weeks ago. Definitely four weeks ago, we were worse off than we were four weeks before that. Where we will be in four weeks? I don’t think anyone can predict. What we do know is that if we keep observing these best practices, we’re going to get stronger, we’re going to be in a better position to start continuing to reengage.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (23:14)
There’s no textbook, specific number that will tell you it is safe to reengage a particular sector of the economy. It depends on human nature. It depends on human activity. It depends on the appropriate protocols and the access to PPE for sectors of the economy. And so, there are a lot of variables into this equation. We do know that when our testing gets to 15 thousand, to 20 thousand, 25 thousand a day, we’ll be in a much stronger position to take that next step. But our ability to do those tests is dependent on things that are not necessarily in our control.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (23:56)
For instance, we’ve been really grateful that the federal government has been able to give us additional testing implements. The swabs. We were anticipating a delivery this week of 10s of thousands of swabs of varying types of swabs. We know that different tests require different kinds of swabs. And I know people are tired of swabs, swabs, swabs. What is so complicated about a swab? They’re not that complicated, but each of these tests depend on a specific type of swab. When our shipment from the federal government comes and it is 100% foam swabs, it means we can’t execute those for all of these other tests that we have, and so it complicates our ability to meet that number so that we have a robust assessment of where we are.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (24:48)
The hardship of saying, “By this date, certain we are going to take this next step. By this particular measurement, we’re going to be in position to take this next step.” There are a variety of things that we are looking at. I think that in the coming days you’ll be better able to assess what these next thresholds are to get into the next phase and we will be in a stronger position to determine what that needs to look like. But there’s a lot of … This is science and this is the practice of epidemiology. And I am listening to the best minds in public health and in our health systems across the state and in medicine. Dr. J, anything you want to add?
Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun: (25:33)
Sure. I’ll just say, similar to the practice of medicine … And when I teach my residents, even though we use evidence-based medicine and there’s all kinds of formulas for what you should do for a patient, people are not cut and dry. You have to look at the context of what someone is presenting in front of you. There’s no special formula that will tell us how and when to reopen. I can say, for example, we may see a certain level of cases in a particular region but you have to dive in. Is that associated with a particular facility? A nursing facility or a workplace? Or is it that it’s just broad community spread? A number won’t necessarily tell you that. We have to look at the context and we’ll continue to do that; looking at all these various variables.
Speaker 7: (26:22)
Looking forward, as we send more people back to work, what kind of protections will there be for workers who don’t feel comfortable going back to work? For example, will they still be able to receive unemployment? And what kind of enforcement will there be if workplaces aren’t providing PPE or following state guidelines?
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (26:43)
I appreciate the nature of the question and I will get to answering it. I’ll just first observe this. Employers want to get this right, too. The vast majority want to go back to work and they want to stay at work. And so, they’ve got prime motivation to make sure that their employees have confidence that they’re going to be safe and that their customers have confidence. Consumer confidence is a very real issue here. We’re watching, of course, what’s going on in other states and in Georgia, for instance, the governor said, “Let’s all go back.” People don’t buy it. They’re nervous. And so, even though a sector of the economy is free to engage in business, it’s hard to get customers to come out because they’re scared. It’s hard to get employees to show up because they’re scared. And that’s why we’ve worked so closely with business to make sure that as we are promulgating best practices, they’re informed by the business.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (27:39)
State government doesn’t know every individual business better than they do and that’s why we’ve partnered to make sure that we are really thoughtful about what it’s going to take to keep people safe because that’s all of our mutual goal. Employees will have protections. We have taken action to ensure that employers can’t have … There’s no retribution. You can’t lose your job for not coming to work because you’ve tested positive for COVID or you have the symptoms or someone in your household has. That’s one of the ways that we’re protecting employees. Another is to work with businesses large and small to make sure that they’ve got the PPE that they need. And through the Small Business Association of Michigan and the Pure Michigan Business Connect through the MEDC, we’re matching businesses in Michigan with the PPE for their employees as we have promulgated these best practices.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (28:33)
I think that we will have an employer here in Michigan come in and talk about what they’re doing to keep their employees safe and I think it’ll be really helpful for people to hear and understand that. As the big three begins and contemplates their initial phasing in starting Monday, they are, I know, working with UAW to make sure that employees can see all of the improvements that have been made in the workplace so that they can see that their safety is paramount. And I think that’s going to be needed in all work places, frankly.
Speaker 7: (29:06)
And will it be up to the state to enforce or local law enforcement if a business isn’t complying?
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (29:12)
The state, we are looking to determine what precisely the apparatus needs to be in state government. Obviously, safe work places are within the purview of state government and that would be a natural expansion of, perhaps, what’s going on at LEO, MIOSHA. We’re not making an announcement today but we are trying to put a finer point on that. I think it’s a great question.
Speaker 7: (29:41)
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (29:41)
Speaker 8: (29:45)
Governor, you said this morning in The View that the protests that we’ve been seeing at the capital could be potentially adding to the spread of COVID-19 as people not listen to the stay at home orders and congregate. What proof do you have to show that that’s happening? And as well as …
Speaker 9: (30:03)
… have to show that that’s happening and as well as COVID-19 spreading into rural areas because of that.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (30:08)
Yeah. So I think that I saw one report. I don’t have proof. I’m not following everybody home and taking their temperatures and watching them for two weeks. But here’s what we know. When COVID-19, the way that it spreads is person-to-person contact, that it can stay in the air for a while, that it is when you’re closer than six feet, not wearing masks, it is when you’re touching one another. We saw a lot of that at these protests at the Capitol. That’s how COVID-19 spreads. We know it’s incredibly contagious and there are a lot of people who get COVID-19 who are asymptomatic and so they’re conducting life as though they’re healthy because they honestly think they’re healthy, but they’re carrying it and spreading it. That’s the insidious nature of this virus.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (30:57)
So that is always been a concern. When people congregate, they take it back to their communities. We’ve seen that over and over again. There was a group that did a report that they had put up a geo fence around the Capitol and then monitored cell phone data and that it translates where we are seeing hotspots in rural parts of Michigan. I don’t know the group, I have not vetted the data. I can’t vouch for it, but I think that that would not be a surprising outcome if that was the case. That’s why I think it’s so important that, if people are determined to protest, I ask that they do right on their own, by themselves, by their own health, by everyone who lives in their household, everyone that they are around and take precautions to protect themselves, wear the mask, stay six feet away from other people. and that they do it on behalf of our first responders too, the police that are onsite, the nurses and doctors who are stressed out because they’re treating COVID patients, their local hospitals, which if they are from a more rural community do not have capacity to meet the need of an outbreak.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (32:08)
If it is 25 cases in metropolitan Detroit versus 25 cases in Petoskey is a very different reality when you’re looking at what kind of the ICU bed capacity is and so I don’t particularly want to see people congregating period. We know that that contributes to spread, but if people are going to come down and demonstrate, do it in a responsible way is what we ask.
Speaker 9: (32:34)
Do you want to see MSP hand out tickets tomorrow for people not social distancing and not wearing masks?
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (32:39)
I think the Michigan State Police is monitoring all of the conversations around this event tomorrow, that they are prepared and are working with the attorney general, I think we’ve seen some joint statements today, and I believe that if there is a reason to issue a ticket that they’re prepared to do that. I’m hopeful that they don’t have reason to.
Speaker 9: (33:04)
Governor, there’s been a lot of concern in the last few days regarding the K-12 budget. A lot of school groups and schools are getting concerned that the chair of the Senate K-12 approp subcommittee has told them to brace for a 25% reduction. But at the State Board of Education meeting yesterday, they talked about something that would probably be more on the order of an 8% or so reduction. The numbers are so wildly different. Can you speak to what people should be preparing for? I know the revenue conference is coming Friday, but I think everyone has a sense at least of what the numbers are looking like.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (33:48)
I’m not quite sure what information Senator Schmidt is working with when he talks about a $2,000 per pupil cut, I just don’t know where that’s coming from. I think that, I’ve been talking regularly with our treasurer, with our budget director, with our congressional delegation, because of course we need Congress to step up and to make sure that this fourth supplemental gets passed. I’m not weighing in on what the final details of it are, but I can tell you, I was on a call with our nation’s governors this afternoon because every one of us is confronting major budget deficits because of COVID-19. We need Congress to step up and give us the support we need.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (34:34)
In terms of precisely what the impact is going to be for schools, I can’t tell you in this moment, all I can say is with this revenue-estimating conference on Friday, we’ll have a lot more information and I remain committed to trying to make sure that we prioritize education in this state. It is a fundamental need. We are lagging the rest of the country when it comes to outcomes. We’ve made strides, but we cannot afford to let decisions be balanced on the education of our kids. We’ve got to do right by our children and I need Congress to step up and help us make sure we’re in a position to do that.
Do you think, I mean, I’ve seen some school groups say that to expect schools to reopen and provide a robust education that’s expected with that type of a reduction is not realistic, that it would mean big increases in class size and so forth. Is that type of a reduction something that you just can’t allow to happen?
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (35:35)
You know what, Zach, we have what we’re predicting to be a $3-billion shortfall in the current fiscal year and probably one of that size or larger in the next fiscal year. We’re going to be confronted with a lot of horrible cuts. And that’s why it’s my fervent hope that Wayne Schmidt and the Republican caucuses in both the House and Senate will encourage our leadership in Washington DC to embrace the solution that Nancy Pelosi has put on the table. I think that it’s going to be really important that people put party aside and say we got to get this right for the people of Michigan. That’s my number one goal.
Speaker 10: (36:19)
Thank you, Governor.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (36:19)
All right. Thank you, everybody. Stay safe.