In this e-newsletter:

  • Upcoming Coffee Hour: Feb. 9
  • State of the State 2024


Upcoming Coffee Hour: Feb. 9

Please join me for an informal, in-person discussion of legislative and community issues at:

Friday, Feb. 9

9-10 a.m. (please note the time)

Totally Brewed Cafe at 151 S. Rose St. in Kalamazoo

While advanced registration is not required, anyone who would like to RSVP or submit questions in advance may do so by emailing


2024 State of the State Address

I was honored to have Dr. Darrin Slade, superintendent of Kalamazoo Public Schools, and my sister, Dr. Diane Owen-Rogers, an education professional, as my special guests at Gov. Whitmer’s 2024 State of the State address on January 24th. To my delight, Gov. Whitmer continued to emphasize the importance of education. The State of the State serves as the kickoff to the policy agenda that the Legislature will take up this year. After her address, I am excited to get to work on building on the many successes we had last year from codifying the Affordable Care Act, finally repealing the retirement tax, protecting reproductive rights with the passage of the Reproductive Health Act and quintupling Michigan’s Earned Income Tax Credit.

In early February, the governor will provide her budget recommendation, which will outline her funding priorities for next year’s budget, including the items she proposed in her State of the State address. Once the governor’s proposed budget is received, the House and Senate Appropriations committees and subcommittees will get to work evaluating and negotiating a budget the Legislature and the governor can support. I am hopeful that the better-than-anticipated fiscal outlook for the state will allow these proposals to be realized.

Here are a few proposals from the State of the State address I would like to highlight:


I was thrilled to hear that the governor will propose accelerating the implementation of universal pre-K, two years earlier than planned, by including funding for the next fiscal year. Forty percent of 4-year-olds in Michigan are not attending pre-K primarily because of the high cost of quality programs. By offering pre-K to all, we will save families with young children thousands of dollars every year and ensure that all our kids get a head start for academic success.

This new investment in universal pre-K schooling builds on the historic support for education we achieved last year with record funding for teachers and our school districts. We finally eliminated the gap in funding between the basic per-pupil funding amount and the state maximum, which has existed since the implementation of Proposal A in 1994. While more work on equity needs to be done, closing this gap was a HUGE first step in ensuring every student in Michigan has access to the high-quality education they deserve.

Support for Caregivers:

Equally exciting was the announcement of a caregiver tax credit to help defray the costs of providing care for a chronically ill or aging family member. This care is both emotionally and financially expensive and often falls disproportionately on women and especially women of color. To offset some of this expense and the stress associated with finding the resources to provide care, Gov. Whitmer proposed a $5,000 tax credit for caregiving expenses like counseling, transportation, nursing and respite services. Providing these additional resources can help our loved ones age in place for longer, support existing care systems and give our caregivers some relief.

Economic Development and Housing:

It was gratifying to hear Gov. Whitmer explicitly call for the creation of a research and development tax credit, which I have been working on with my colleagues for the past year. House Bill 5101, which I introduced in October 2023, is part of a five-bill bipartisan package to give Michigan an economic development tool most other states already have to encourage investment in cutting edge technology and research projects. Michigan has world-class research universities poised to partner with innovative companies to invest in high-wage employees and attract new talent to our communities. With this legislation, my focus has been ensuring that small- and medium-sized companies can compete for these credits so that businesses like Genemarkers and Dipharma, both located in Kalamazoo, can access these resources and drive our local economy. Michigan is poised to be an innovation hub and the implementation of an R&D tax credit will support that effort.

Another driver of our economy that has been a challenge has been affordable housing. Too many working families are being priced out of the market as the availability of housing fails to keep up with demand. Gov. Whitmer proposed a program to build or rehab 10,000 homes so that the households spending half or more of their income on rent can find affordable housing. Affordable housing is necessary to attract and retain younger families looking for a place to settle down and build their lives.


More information:

If you missed the address live, you can watch it in its entirety and read more about Gov. Whitmer’s proposed policies here.