Gov. Whitmer giving an update on Michigan's course during the novel coronavirus pandemic. Photo courtesy the Office of the Governor.
Gov. Whitmer giving an update on Michigan's course during the novel coronavirus pandemic. Photo courtesy the Office of the Governor.

Michigan’s budget will be thrown way out of balance by the long-term effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is leading by example by taking a pay cut.

LANSING, MI — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer again proved that she is the leader needed in this time of crisis, now announcing a pay cut to ease the state’s financial pinch during the pandemic. 

Her efforts to enact social distancing as governmental policy have been a major piece of the state’s strategy to flatten the curve and stem the tide of infections of coronavirus, but now she and her staff are making the personal sacrifices needed to address the financial costs of the virus. 

Whitmer announced Monday that as a response to tightening of state budgets, she will be cutting her own pay by 10% and asked her senior executives to take a 5% pay cut as well. Whitmer called this leading by example. 

“I know that times are tough and that we as a state are going to be confronting a tough budget as a result of the economic shutdown,” Whitmer said.

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And that is a certainty. Even if the pandemic definitively ends in the coming weeks, the economic impacts of the pandemic will be felt for at least a year. As The ‘Gander has reported, the rate at which unemployment increased during the pandemic to date has shattered previous records, and that reduction in work will translate to a drop-off in state taxes next fiscal year. At the same time, the pandemic has increased the costs of the state in areas of public health. 

To say nothing of the various programs the state will have to fund to restore Michigan’s economy after the stay-at-home orders are lifted. 

It’s hard to not compare that action to the general demeanor of Whitmer’s major political rival in recent weeks, President Donald Trump, who has focused heavily on his personal reputation as it relates to the virus and attempting to save political face, Notably, Trump refused to take any responsibility for the initial mishandling of the pandemic. 

And that difference is clear to Michiganders. The ‘Gander reported Monday that by a wide margin, the people of Michigan prefer Whitmer’s approach to the pandemic to Trump’s. 

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While the current stay-at-home order expires April 30, Michigan has not yet met the four-prong plan Gov. Whitmer outlined to assess when the state can start easing restrictions, but Michigan is trending in that direction. Whitmer said how to move forward will be decided over the next ten days. 

“What happens next depends on every single one of us. When faced with an unprecedented crisis like this, good people step up and do their part,” Whitmer said. “To those of you who are hopeful we’ll be able to start loosening some restrictions: stay home now to better make the odds that we’re able to do that in ten days. To those of you who want to get back to work as soon as possible: stay home. To those of you who made plans for June, July or August and want to see them through: stay home.”

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She went on to say that the people who have done that, and kept home to prevent further spread of the coronavirus are the reason that the curve has been flattening today, and why there is even an opportunity to look at easing restrictions in May.