Jennifer M. Granholm was elected the 47th governor of the State of Michigan in November 2002. She successfully resolved over $4 billion in budget deficits, trimming more from state government than any governor in Michigan’s history. A fiscal hawk, Granholm worked to ensure that state government spent every penny efficiently, while aggressively pursuing her top priorities: growing Michigan’s economy and maintaining the state’s high quality of life.
Granholm focused on improving Michigan’s economy through a comprehensive plan – her Jobs Today, Jobs Tomorrow plan. Her economic agenda included creating thousands of jobs for Michigan workers by accelerating infrastructure projects, training unemployed workers for high-demand jobs, and by diversifying Michigan’s economy through the unprecedented $2 billion 21st Century Jobs for Michigan Fund. The fund was created to help diversify Michigan’s economy in key industries including the life sciences, alternative energy, advanced manufacturing, and homeland security and defense technology. Governor Granholm also reduced the red tape that businesses face when seeking permits from the state.
Governor Granholm’s administration helped to create and retain some 331,000 jobs. She met face-to-face with businesses from across the country and around the world – and her leadership paid off. Two trade missions to Japan resulted in more than 1,000 new jobs and more than $200 million in new investment from Japanese companies.
Direct action by Governor Granholm's administration convinced major corporations to create jobs and expand in Michigan. Keebler relocated its headquarters from Illinois to Battle Creek. Toyota put 400 people to work in York Township at its new Technical Center. And when manufacturing jobs left Greenville for Mexico, Governor Granholm stepped in and helped convince United Solar Ovonic to open a new manufacturing facility there.
Michigan was cited by Governing magazine (February 2005) as an outstanding leader in its Government Performance Project (GPP) report titled, "Grading the States 2005." The nationwide report card gave Michigan and the Granholm administration high marks in the areas of money, people, infrastructure, and information management. Only Virginia and Utah scored higher than Michigan.
Governor Granholm’s focus on families meant extending affordable prescription drug coverage and health care coverage to more than 292,000 Michigan families. Granholm saved the state nearly $40 million in 2003 when she introduced the nation's first bulk-buying pool for prescription drugs; and then she extended those savings to citizens by introducing the MiRx Card, which provides discount prescription drugs to uninsured families. Since 2003, Granholm has also enrolled nearly 50,000 additional children for health insurance through the Healthy Kids and MiCHILD programs. In 2006, Governor Granholm signed into law legislation that increases Michigan’s minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $6.95 per hour in October 2007, and up to $7.40 per hour in July 2008 – the first increase in Michigan’s minimum wage in nine years.
Despite tough fiscal times, Granholm increased spending for Michigan’s public schools. In 2005, for the first time, classrooms in Michigan received record funding at levels promised by the previous administration. The first in her family to attend college, Granholm also championed universal access to higher education. She successfully challenged state universities to hold the line on tuition increases and has proposed a first-in-the-nation program that would award $4,000 to every Michigan student who completes two years of post-secondary education.
Granholm began her career in public service as a clerk for U.S. Judge Damon Keith on the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. She considers Judge Keith a mentor to this day. In 1990, Granholm became a federal prosecutor in Detroit, where she maintained a 98 percent conviction rate. In 1994, Granholm was appointed Wayne County Corporation Counsel. She worked to reduce taxpayer-funded lawsuit payouts by 87 percent.
Elected Michigan’s first female Attorney General in 1998, Granholm continued her fight to protect Michigan’s citizens and consumers. She established the state’s first High Tech Crime Unit to prosecute Internet crimes. Following the September 11th attacks on the United States, Granholm led a multi-agency effort to ensure that Michigan laws could effectively be used to fight terrorism at the state level. In the wake of the attacks, she also cracked down on gas stations gouging consumers at the pump. As Attorney General, Granholm also started a successful statewide mentoring initiative.
Granholm was elected by the people of Michigan to serve as their first woman chief executive on November 6, 2002.
Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Granholm is an honors graduate of both the University of California at Berkeley and Harvard Law School. She served as Vice Chair of the Democratic Governors Association and Chair of the National Governor’s Association Health and Human Services Committee. She and her husband, Daniel G. Mulhern, have three children.