Education: K-12, Vocational Education, College education, Funding
Public education is what has made America who we are. Children of all kinds are in the same schools, meeting one another, studying together, no matter their race, background, or class. We need public education in this country. I am deeply concerned about the future of our kids' education. The first thing that has to be done is that the School Fund should be protected, and cannot be used for other state programs. Then, we need to restore at least some of the funding that has been cut and take a new look at the way public education is funded so that it’s on a firm footing. We need public education and we need publicly funded quality education here! So what other states and countries are successful? From whom can we get ideas?
We need more vocational education for our teens and young adults. No longer do corporations or unions do the training. We need to train our young people in service industries such as culinary arts, building trades, auto repair, machining and more. Better educated children means that we will have a better trained workforce.
We need teachers in public education who are paid fair wages for their work and who have good working conditions in their classrooms. As public employees, historically, the way they have been able to attain these things is through collective bargaining. Our state legislature is doing its best to strip away many things from our teachers, but they (and I) draw the line at collective bargaining. All workers have the right to join together to demand fair wages for their work, safe working conditions, and other benefits – the same benefits given to the legislators who make the laws.
Small Business Help
Small businesses need help to succeed because they are the job creation engines for our small towns. Our current state government has done a great job helping large corporations but small businesses with 2, 10 and 25 employees are what keep our small towns alive and lively. They need help with regulations, funding for start-up and expansion and training for their owners. Some of that can come from the state and some can come from business groups dedicated to development of our area.
Funding Infrastructure and the Gas Tax
I support raising the gas tax – say a penny a year. That way, both residents and tourists help bear the cost of paying for road repairs. Our roads are a MESS, but it's taken years to get them that way and they aren't going to get fixed in a year, so we'll need to set priorities and work our way into fixing them ‘some’ at a time. The more we can get done, the more folks we can employ in getting them fixed! This is an where I think we need to see if we can develop a fund that has a steady stream of income and then can't be touched so that it's dedicated for the roads and bridges. I'd like to see the same thing happen for our school funding.
It is a human right to love and be loved. Having friends who are gay and lesbian, I know that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are people who love and want to be loved, who want to live ordinary, productive lives just like everyone else. I think it is reprehensible that we allow gays to be bullied and discriminated against. I support the inclusion of LGBT persons in the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act and Michigan’s Ethnic Intimidation Act. I support full inclusion of LGBT families in the life of our state and seek equal responsibilities, benefits, and protections for those families, including the right to adopt and raise children. It is my hope that someday we will celebrate our differences instead of being afraid of them.
The Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Second Amendment proclaims every American’s right to defend their homes and themselves. People who hunt should be able to have the necessary weapons they need for hunting. However, I would hope that, for the safety of all citizens, that we make sure that everyone using a gun has been trained to use that gun and has a permit to use that weapon.
Jobs / Regional Cooperation
We need good, secure jobs for people in our area. Things are looking up with the battery plant and Hemlock Semi-Conductor but more must be done to draw solid visionary companies to the Tri-County area. We need more regional cooperation amongst the tri-counties, not just with businesses but also with governments. Groups like the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance are making a great start in business cooperation. They are dedicated to economic development for the whole Saginaw Valley. So how can our local governments work together on a regional level? How can we invest in our lakes, riversides, and historic districts to draw tourists to our area and make it a vacation mecca? We need to help raise up everyone and not let anyone fail. We are ALL in this together, all of us in the Saginaw Valley. So how can we better work together, using our precious resources as wisely as possible?
My newly redrawn district has some areas where people are struggling financially in both Bay County and in Midland County. There's been a tremendous growth in poverty in both counties since 2006 – more hungry children, more homeless families due to lack of affordable housing. Our State Legislature has drastically cut assistance to families in need in many ways in the past two years. $261 million in Earned Income Tax Credit yearly. The EITC was put in place to refundable federal tax credit that helps working people achieve economic stability and security. Now that's gone. $27 million has been cut from child care and early child care. Before and after school programs for youth K-9 have been eliminated in low-performing school districts. And so much more. That has to be reversed. The folks affected could use training and mentoring that perhaps are difficult to get to due to distance and transportation issues. I would like to have us work with the community colleges and Bay-Arenac ISD and other resources to see what is being done and what more can be done. People in our area need jobs. They need hope. That's why I'm running.
Right to Work Legislation
'Right to Work' is totally unjust. This law sets up a horrible situation for all concerned. A union shop should be a union shop – if there are workers who are not union members, then they should pay the membership dues because they are going to get the benefits of being part of that shop. If the law passes, then they become free riders, which sets worker against worker and then weakens collective bargaining, which we need to desperately today when big business is set on destroying workers' rights. It also is going to adversely affect the benefits workers receive. Most states with Right to Work legislation have shown that the number of workers with benefits decreases significantly.
State and Federal Prevailing Wage
Many states have prevailing wage laws because the government believed that it should not, when it employed construction workers for its projects, drive down wages. I like that idea. So, from the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act to the 1966 Prevailing Wage Act here in Michigan that has been the law. From what I've read, the Prevailing Wage Act doesn't drive up wages, doesn't drive down productivity and actually seems to have a great effect on construction training programs. How can that not be a good thing? Plus, the workers get the benefit of health care when so many don't have health care nowadays and also receive some money for their pension plan – another great benefit. Something I know they would not receive unless mandated by law!