Whitmer texted Shirkey over ‘doubling down on stupid’ remark

By: - March 8, 2019 12:03 am

Mike Shirkey (left) and Gretchen Whitmer (right)

At a Detroit luncheon on Thursday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had a rejoinder for state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake), who had pointed criticism about her business tax proposal.

Talking to reporters on Wednesday, Shirkey said that her plan to raise the 4.25 percent corporate income tax to 6 percent for S-corporations and limited liability companies was “doubling down on stupid.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in Detroit, March 7, 2019 | Ken Coleman

Whitmer said that when she learned that, she sent him a text message that read: “Doubling down on stupid, huh?”

She said that Shirkey replied: “I hope that wasn’t offensive.”

“I don’t think I responded to that one,” Whitmer told the laughing crowd with a chuckle of her own.

At the luncheon sponsored by Inforum, a women’s business group, Whitmer made the case for her fiscal year 2020 budget that she presented this week to state House and Senate Appropriations committees.

She reiterated her plans to fix the roads, invest in education, close the skills gap and clean up Michigan’s drinking water.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at the Fiscal Year 2020 budget presentation | Casey Hull

Whitmer kicked off her “Road to Opportunity Tour” Wednesday in Grand Rapids, as the Advance reported, and downplayed the idea of horse-trading her business tax for the gas tax for roads.

Detroit Free Press columnist Nancy Kaffer moderated the question-and-answer part of the Detroit event.

Whitmer was asked when the budget process will be completed. The governor reiterated what she said at her State of the State address that the process should be done by summer, as it was under former Gov. Rick Snyder.

“I do believe that we’re going to have a budget signed before [the Legislature] takes a break. I think we should all insist on that,” she said.

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers the State of the Union address on February 5, 2019 | Doug Mills, Pool/Getty Images

When asked her thoughts about President Donald Trump’s border wall emergency declaration, Whitmer answered, “I don’t believe that it’s worthy of an emergency declaration, what is happening on the southern border.

“I do think that we need a real comprehensive immigration policy that comes out of Washington, D.C. The decisions via Twitter are dumb whether it is on trade, or tariffs or immigration. These are incredibly important issues.”

Whitmer also was asked: “In honor of March as Women’s History Month, can you speak to the women who have inspired you?”

Whitmer said her mother, Sherry, an assistant state attorney general who served under Frank Kelley and died in 2002. Whitmer’s eldest daughter is named for her.

“One time someone said, ‘Can’t wear fuchsia in the court, Sherry,’” Whitmer recalled. “She responded, ‘Fuchsia is my power color!’

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s family: Husband Dr. Mark Mallory and daughters Sydney and Sherry | Casey Hull

“She had a humor and attitude,” Whitmer continued. “I was raised by a woman like that. I look at people like the former [Texas] Gov. Ann Richards, who was funny and strong and inspiring. I served in the Michigan Senate in the same seat that [now-U.S. Sen.] Debbie Stabenow had held.

“I think that I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of women in my life who have inspired me and showed me that you can be tough and funny and strong. There are a lot of women in this room who exemplify that. I grateful for what we do every day.”

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Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit.