Truman Days in Kansas City: Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, part 1

…That recovery act gives us the ability to offer those who have been displaced, who’ve had the rug pulled out from under them the dignity of being able to be retrained. We are doing something called “No Worker Left Behind”, and you guys have the Workforce Investment Act. We’re paying for two years of tuition, for any worker who is unemployed or underemployed, at a community college. We’ll pay for five thousand dollars per year, up to ten thousand dollars, if they agree to be trained in an area where we know we are pursuing emerging sectors. But tha, for us, is critical for our ability to change as a state.

I can tell you, too, that the scope of this disaster of an economy for us has meant that we have lost a huge amount of revenue for education. So the Recovery Act allows us to keep teachers in the classrooms. Like it does here. Yesterday, May 1st, was the day that parents across the country and kids across the country had to make a decision about whether they were gonna accept their college applications. Any of you have kids who are going to college? One or two of you? You know kids who are going to college? Yeah. All right. So, you know, bottom line for those kids is that the president in the Recovery Act included an increase in the amount of Pell Grants, to the tune of five thousand six hundred dollars. So the bottom line in Michigan, five thousand six hundred dollars, can get you tuition at a community college, plus books. That would never have happened if we had gone the other way in the election.

The ability for us to hold these kids to higher standards, for us in Missouri and Michigan and other places in the Midwest, to tell parents you cannot have your child, you can’t, you’ve gotta tell your child that not only do they have to graduate from high school, but they’ve got to go beyond. In this new world kids have got to go beyond high school. Whether it’s four years, two years, or technical or vocational certification, the world has changed. And so President Obama has made it very clear. If he’s gonna do whatever he can to get America to have more people graduating from college so that we don’t lose our place in the global economy, that we don’t lose our competitiveness…

…So you guys are doing the same thing here. Cost should not be a barrier. What we want to do is get all of these kids to go beyond high school, ’cause they’re not just competing with Indiana, or Illinois, or Kansas, they’re competing with China, they’re competing with India, and they’re going to eat us for lunch unless we get these kids to jump over a higher bar. [applause] You know what I’m saying? [applause]

The, the Recovery Act also gave this great gift to you all and to, to all of our states. That any family that’s earning around forty thousand dollars or less will get six thousand five hundred dollars to be able to weatherize their home. Six thousand five hundred dollars. Now this is such a win-win because it means that those who are producing those products, to weatherize homes, that means they get the benefit of that. And hopefully you have a lot of those in Missouri. It means that those who install the insulation, or the weatherization, they get jobs. It means that those who are, those who are the benefiting, which are the homeowners, get a twenty-five to thirty per cent break on their energy bill. And of course, the planet benefits as well. Whenever you hear the words climate change or global warming, I know that you understand that you should translate it into your mind as jobs for Missouri. And I say the same thing about Michigan. All these jobs for Michigan and Missouri. So I know we shouldn’t be afraid of change and we ought not, we ought to steer right into it, so I’m telling you from my perspective we are going to, we intend in Michigan to take every advantage of adding jobs in this sector. And I know you guys have done this exact same thing. You want to steer into that wind and create those jobs and take advantage of every bit of stimulus money you can.

This change issue is such a big deal. It’s in small things as well as large things. When we were, the governors every year are invited to the White House through our National Governors Association, and Governor Nixon was there this year. And normally when we were, when President Bush was there we would be invited in and we would have these really nice, nice dinners seated around nice tables and, and the, the band would come in, the Marine Corps Band. It was beautiful. After dinner, when President Bush was there, we would be escorted into a room adjacent to where we all had dinner. Chairs would be lined up and an entertainer would come and entertain for about fifteen minutes because the president wanted to get to bed by nine. And so [laughter], we would go in and sit there. You know, it would be somebody like Marvin Hamlisch, etcetera. This year when we went to the White House I knew change had arrived. [laughter] The dinner was very nice, same kind of thing, the president actually brought out the, the cooks and had them speak to us about the, the meal. That had never happened before. And they were so proud to talk about the American ingredients of this meal. And then we were escorted to the room where we always go to have the entertainment, but there were no chairs. [laughter] And in fact there was a big band stage set up. And the band was Earth, Wind, and Fire. [laughter] [applause] Change had come. And Earth, Wind, and Fire, the guy who was the, the drummer was doing flips on the stage and he kicked the cymbal with his foot after he did the flips. And we were all, I mean, you know, these are portraits of Lincoln and Washington [laughter] looking down on us. [laughter] All the governors and the President and the First Lady were rocking out in the White House. [laughter] [applause] Just immediately after the President and the First lady left the governors all got in a conga line. [laughter] And we all looked at one another and said, “Change has come.” [laughter] But, that’s a secret. What goes on in the White House, stays in the White House. [laughter] [applause] Change in things big and small.

So, I, I’m, I’m way over. I’m way over and I really want to respect your time and I’m skipping through here because I’m told, I don’t want to be never invited back. [laughter] But I do want to say that because of this change. And I want to tell you just one last story and I’ll get off your stage. In Michigan this, just think of this is what’s happened in communities I’m sure across the country. And I bet you’ve got a community or two like this here. In a little town in Michigan called Greenville, town of eight thousand people, they have twenty-seven hundred employees who worked at, worked, at a factory. It was an Electrolux refrigerator factory. So if you can imagine in a town of eight thousand, twenty-seven hundred people, it’s like a one company town, ’cause when you get grandparents and kids and all of that. And Electrolux decided that it was gonna go to Mexico. Because in Mexico they could pay a buck fifty-seven an hour. So, we rallied, and we went to Electrolux and we said, “Look, we will give you zero taxes. We’ll give you a new factory.” The UAW represented the workers and they said, “We will give you unprecedented concessions.” And Electrolux said, “No matter what you offer, you won’t be able to compensate for the fact that we can make a bigger profit ’cause we only have to pay a buck fifty-seven an hour.”

On the day the last refrigerator rolled of the factory line the workers had a, a dinner in a big, big arena in Greenville. And they called it “The Last Supper.” And I went to the
last supper. And shook the hands of all of these workers and just said, “I’m so sorry we couldn’t do this. I’m so sorry.” It was, as you can imagine, it was heartbreaking. And shaking the hands of workers who were, guys who were fifty years old and would say, “You know, my father worked at this factory. My grandfather worked at this factory. I went from high school to this factory. I’m fifty years old. who’s gonna hire me?” Six months later we committed we were gonna replace those jobs in Greenville. And we went to a solar company that was doing solar panels, and God bless them, they have just finished their third factory building in Greenville [applause] to build solar panels.

The community college takes those Electrolux workers and trains them for this clean tech manufacturing. And the reason why I tell you that story is because I do think that there is a happy ending to what we’re all going through as we see these changes in our economy. And you gotta know that we are fighting for that worker who saw their job outsourced to Mexico. That’s what this change is all about. In Michigan we are big believers in fair trade. We always say NAFTA and CAFTA, as they were enforced under the Bush administration, NAFTA and CAFTA gave us the shafta. [laughter] [applause]

But we also know that change is coming. and so that’s why we’re fighting for that worker. And we’re fighting for the woman who I met last month at my son’s basketball game who just got layed off and had, and has to have ovarian surgery, but cannot do it ’cause she has no health care. We’re fighting for, we’re fighting for the people who set up this room today. [voice: “That’s right.”] Who fed you your supper. The folks who clean up after we’ve gone. You know we’re fighting because it’s not just about winning an election. It is about governing. It is about the change that this fantastic president is giving us the opportunity to bring to those people. These are not statistics. Unemployment numbers are real people.

So, Missour…What do you call? Missourans? [laughter] Missourans? I, I am all about your spunk and your grit and your determination. I’m all about Harry Truman. [voice: “Yeah!”] I’m all about [applause] making sure that those sixty votes are in place to be able to provide health care for all of our citizens. [voice: “Right!”] And opportunity for all of our citizens. And when the party of “No” tries to throw up the barriers to prevent us from doing the changes we know we need, I know that we will put to work that Missouri spirit. We will say, “Hell no,” right? [applause] We’re gonna give ’em hell [applause] [cheers] to be able to bring the change that we need to this country. [applause]

So thank you for inviting me here. There is great spirit here. Thank you for supporting the great leadership. Thank you for getting sixty-one votes next year. God bless you all. [applause] [cheers]