Guns – Reducing and preventing gun violence is a public safety issue not a political one. Over 35,000 Americans are killed every year by gun violence and nearly 2/3 are suicides. Responsible gun owners know that supporting the 2nd amendment goes hand in hand with common sense solutions to reduce gun violence. I support strengthening laws to keep firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers. The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that a woman will be killed. I also support promoting responsible gun storage and ownership. Studies show that no matter what you tell kids, they’re most likely to pick up the gun. It’s up to adults to store firearms properly and this can prevent tragic accidents.
Revenue Sharing – Over the last decade, lawmakers and governors from both political parties have used billions of dollars in sales tax collections to fill state budget holes rather than fulfill a statutory revenue sharing promise to local communities. The losses have resulted in steep cuts to public services residents rely on. Since 2002, the legislature has withheld 8 billion dollars in funding earmarked for local governments. In 2015, the state began awarding grants to financially stressed communities but these grants are less than the promised revenue share so communities have to make tough financial decisions. In addition, 1978’s Headlee Amendment limits annual property tax to 5% or the rate of inflation, whichever is less, making it more challenging for local governments to recover after a financial crisis like the Great Recession. I support returning statutory revenue sharing to at least it’s 2008 level.
Work requirements for Medicaid - I don't favor Medicaid work requirements. First of all, most able-bodied Michiganders on Medicaid already work. I’m concerned about those who are caring for an elderly parent or school age children and could fall short on the required hours. For those who fall short on their monthly 80 hours could be punished by losing their coverage for an entire year which may prove to be deadly in some cases.
Healthcare - Our prescription drug costs are unobtainable for many so lowering those costs would help. I support holding drug manufacturers accountable and require transparency to protect consumers for unjustified price increases. Healthcare is a human right and I support improving childcare and nursing home conditions. I support improving services for the children, adolescents and adults struggling with mental illness. I support improving services for current and returning veterans. I would support a state-level single-payer healthcare.
Roads – I believe corporations need to pay their fair share. Michigan relies too heavily on individual income taxes while businesses only pay a much smaller amount. Michigan needs to hold trucks and their weight accountable. We have one of the worst truck-weight laws in the country and allow twice the weight than federal regulations. Consumers are paying out of pocket on repair bills while shipping companies profit. Changing our tax structure to a graduated system would bring relief to middle class families while creating revenue. I support changing the current formula of county road funding to something more equitable. The counties with more drivers that also creating more revenue should receive more funding. I also support tightening accountability to those businesses that build our roads and get a guaranteed product.
Education – Michigan has made the least amount of improvement of scores nationally since 2003. There's a growing shortage of teachers in Michigan due to declining salaries and the threatening of teachers' benefits packages including pensions and health insurance. There are 5000 fewer certified teachers than 14 years ago and enrollment to teacher education programs have declined. I support offering incentives to attract and retain teachers in struggling schools. Longevity is key to good changes in low-performing districts. I support investing in early childhood programs. The foundation for student success starts as early as 3 years old. Michigan is one of 15 states that doesn't offer state-funded preschool for our youngest students. I support more affordable post-secondary education including free community college and low-cost skill trades training. There's a shortage of adults with skills needed for jobs that require more than a diploma but less than a bachelor's degree. We need an affordable path to train people to fill these jobs.
Tax incentives to spur development - I don't believe the state should use tax incentives to spur development. These narrowly targeted tax breaks come at an enormous cost. Michigan's decision to spend scarce public resources on tax incentives have lead us to a less educated citizenry and a deterioration in infrastructure quality.
Transit – The RTA proposal would expand economic opportunities for countless residents who struggle to get to work, school and doctor appts. It will take cars off the roads which will ease congestion, reduce emissions and produce productivity. It brings value to all 4 counties. The new proposal allows the counties to be eligible for more federal and state grant funding. One of the reasons Amazon passed on building it’s second headquarters in Detroit was because of it’s lack of a robust regional transit. The RTA proposal would bring freedom to riders in the senior and disabled community. There are many that can’t afford to own let alone maintain a car but that shouldn’t prevent them from getting to work or school. I support bringing the RTA proposal to the 2020 ballot since it won’t be on the 2018 and let voters decide.
FOIA and transparency in government – Michigan ranks last in the country in transparency in government. Michigan needs to require the governor's office to be subject to the Freedom of Information Act as right now it is exempted. Michigan needs to pass the Legislative Open Records Act which has stalled in the Senate Government Operations Committee. We need to require financial disclosure for lawmakers. Right now, besides knowing the base salaries, legislatures are free to earn money outside of that with no requirement to report extra income. I oppose Michigan’s version of Citizen’s United which opens the doors for increased political spending by corporations. Michigan doesn’t need more influence from wealthy campaign contributors in our elections. Any of these reforms would start to build public trust in state government which is at an all time low.
Repeal of the prevailing wage – on June 6th, Michigan’s prevailing wage was repealed. Republican lawmakers claim it will protect taxpayer money but other states that have repealed their prevailing wage law have proven this is not the case, such as Indiana. It produced reduced worker pay, productivity declined, injuries increased and the state hasn't saved any money. Prevailing wages are union scale wages on public construction projects. The repeal of the prevailing wage will lead to lower quality work and the crucial shortage of skilled trade workers will increase. Michigan will now be allowed to accept lower, out-of-state bids on construction projects and instead of that money going back into our economy, it could leave our state.
Elections – I support the ballot initiative Promote the Vote. It will assure that military service members and overseas voters get their ballots in time for their votes to count. It provides automatic registration to vote at the Secretary of State office whenever doing business there. It also provides that all registered voters have access to an absentee ballot for any reason.
Abortion – I believe that women should always have access to healthcare. Data shows that abortion rates go down if women have access to birth control and education about sex. Cutting funding to organizations like Planned Parenthood increases the rate of unwanted pregnancies.
Social Justice - Data has shown that people of color are overrepresented in prisons and jails. Michigan needs to reform its policies regarding pregnant women serving time. As it stands now, a pregnant woman will have to labor while shackled, without a support person present, will be handcuffed right after giving birth and will be separated from her child almost immediately. The babies born will be less likely to thrive and will affect their long-term development. Regardless how one feels about these women, they are still human and deserve basic human rights.
Flint water – it began in the spring of 2014 when Flint’s public water source was moved from Detroit Water to the Flint River. This is an extremely complex tragedy that has resulted in deaths and long-term damage to the children that live there. Pipes throughout the city have been replaced and that work continues and should continue until every affected pipe is replaced. Flint also needs extra funding to support the families affected by lead poisoning. Lead exposure can erode a child’s IQ, shortens attention span and can create behavior challenges. These children will eventually be adults and will need extra guidance and job training. I opposed the free water cut off in April and Flint residents don’t trust their tap water with good reason. I support more funding for Flint until all the pipes are replaced and their trust in the tap water is restored.
Gerrymandering – I support the ballot initiative Voters Not Politicians. Partisan dominated redistricting has the ability to effectively eliminate competition by using voter data to draw lines in favor of one party or the other. This redistricting almost guarantees a victory for the candidate of the party that drew the lines limiting the voter’s choice. A voter should be able to choose their candidate, not the other way around.
Auto insurance rates – Michigan has the highest auto insurance rates in the country and we as drivers need relief. I support a prohibition on auto insurance companies from using anything other than a person’s driving record such as credit scores, zip codes or gender to determine rates and a creation of a fraud authority to root out abuses by both insurance providers and customers. The biggest issue is that there are no statutory limits on how much money Michigan hospitals and doctors can charge for treatment of an auto injury. Those costs are then pushed on to drivers. Until those limits are reformed, we will continue to have the highest rates in the nation.
Environment and Energy -. I support renewable energy and Michigan’s renewable portfolio standard which supports 40,000 good paying jobs. As Michigan increases its renewable energy, it would have less reliance on energy sources such as propane which runs through Enbridge’s Line 5. Line 5 has spilled 29 times and more than a million gallons since 1968. It was built in 1953, has exceeded its lifespan of 40-50 years and the only solution to prevent a catastrophic disaster is to shut it down. The Great Lakes are a drinking water source for 35 million people in Michigan. In a worst case scenario of a rupture, 700 miles of Great Lakes coastline would be affected, damage to wildlife would be significant and our tourism industry would suffer. Its time to put our communities, our natural resources and our economy ahead of corporate greed. I support upholding ballast water management regulations. This is the front line of prevention of invasive species in the Great Lakes and it’s our duty to protect the Great Lakes because water is life. The privatization of our water resources continues to erode the basic understanding that water is a public resource that is legally required under public trust doctrine to be protected and preserved by the state for Michigan residents, rather than private corporations like Nestle. The MDEQ received 9 letters from tribal governments, 8 letters from citizens groups, 2 petitions combining over 350,000 signatures and over 80,000 people wrote to protest Nestle receiving rights to pump 250 to 400 gallons a minute. Nestle pays $200 a year to extract 576,000 gallons a day which contributes to yearly sales of 7.7 billion dollars worldwide. I support Representative Lucido’s bill, HB 5133 which would impose a 5-cent per gallon fee which would go into a restricted account to fund infrastructure projects.
Unions – “Right to Work” is an unnecessary law. The Federal law guarantees that no one can be forced to be a member of a union, or to pay any amount of dues or fees to a political or social cause they don’t support. It also provides for every worker represented by a union an equal and nondiscriminatory representation. “Right to Work” hurts workplace safety, weakens the middle class from having a voice in receiving fair wages and benefits for doing their job as expected. Additionally, there is little evidence that this law creates jobs, helps workers or are good for Michigan’s economy. I support unions.
Taxes –States collect income taxes from their residents to help pay for education, roads and other vital state services. It’s currently set at 4.25% with a personal exemption amount of $4000. A fairer tax system in Michigan could reduce taxes for 95% of filers while bringing in additional revenue to fund our vital services, invest in roads and schools and create an economy that works for all Michigan residents. It’s time for Michigan to join the other 33 states that have a fair income tax structure. New polling shows that 66% of Michiganders support a graduated income tax so the people that can afford to pay more do, while the people with lower incomes get some tax relief.
Living Wage – Our current minimum wage is $9.25 an hour. That equals, before taxes $17,000 a year. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $750 a month which equals $9000 a year. That leaves the minimum wage worker $8000 a year to buy food, own or lease a car, pay for auto insurance, clothing and everything else. Minimum wage has not kept up with an inflation and people are forced to work 2 or 3 jobs just to meet basic needs. People say that minimum wage jobs should only be starting point but why should a low wage worker be punished if they like their job? Why punish the individual if they don’t have the aptitude for higher learning? I support raising Michigan’s minimum wage and I hope voters choose yes on the November ballot.
Cannabis – I support the decriminalizing of recreational cannabis with federal, state, and local governments regulation of the cannabis trade as they do with alcohol and tobacco. The ballot proposal that will be on the November ballot will impose a 10% excise tax at the retail level as well as a 6% sales tax. The estimated revenues are at least $100 million. 35% of that revenue will go to k-12 schools, 35% will go toward road funding. The remaining 30% will go to communities and counties where cannabis businesses are located. The proposal will allow communities to decide whether they will permit cannabis businesses.