Positioning Michigan in a global economy means having top rate schools and universities, robust job growth and a strong commitment to a clean environment. If we focus on these three areas, we can create the type of Michigan we want to see in the 21st century. As a former Mayor, non-profit employee, and current State Representative I’ve worked closely with community leaders to bring real solutions to our state’s problems. Click below to read more.
Investing in K-12 Education
As a product of Michigan public schools, I know and appreciate the value that well-funded schools can provide in shaping our workforce for tomorrow. I am deeply disturbed by the continuing trend of Governor Snyder and legislative Republicans to raid the School Aid Fund by removing funding from local school districts to fund other priorities. I have stood up against these efforts on the House Floor and warned against the damage it does to our schools. As a state, it is vital for us to invest in public education so residents have access to neighborhood schools and that our classrooms have appropriate student to teacher ratios. We must make sure that we are supplying our teachers with the appropriate technology, training and resources to make sure students are getting the best educational opportunities.
Investing in Higher Education
As Democratic Vice Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education, I have been a vocal advocate for our institutions of higher learning. If we are to prepare our students for the global economy, we need to create an investment strategy that increases the amount of state support to all institutions of higher learning from four year institutions to community colleges. The state of Michigan is fortunate to have world class higher education institutions. Unfortunately, the state of Michigan has not invested in this great resource, ranking 38th in the nation for overall funding for higher education. I believe that, as a state, we need to keep tuition affordable for students and working families. We need to support the role that universities and colleges have in economic/community development throughout the state. I also believe that every student should have access to service learning and international learning opportunities as part of their academic experience.
Investing in Growing the Economy
As an economic development professional and a former Mayor, I know the importance of building an environment for businesses to thrive. We need to work with existing businesses in our communities to help them access the talented workforce and capital they need to succeed. We need to further invest in our community colleges and workforce agencies to provide people with the skills to transition to different jobs in the new economy. We need to support the technology transfer from higher education institutions to entrepreneurs so we can take ideas from the laboratories to the marketplace. We need to adequately fund all levels of education so our students are prepared to enter into a global workforce.
Michigan is uniquely positioned in a number of industries such as advanced manufacturing, health care, alternative energy, information technology and transportation, distribution and logistics and we need to build off of these assets to grow our economy and jobs. We need to support these businesses to become more competitive in the global marketplace.
Investing in the Environment
From the Great Lakes to our national and state parks, Michigan is a great state to live in. It is our responsibility to preserve the wonderful natural assets we have for future generations to enjoy. As a State Representative, I have sponsored legislation to increase our state’s energy efficiency standards. We need a comprehensive state agenda on clean energy and energy consumption which will help us make the right long term decisions. We also need to continue the investment that has been made in the alternative and green energy sector because it diversifies our energy options and creates jobs. I am proud that during my tenure as Mayor of East Lansing, we strengthened our wetland protection ordinances and that I signed the Mayor’s Climate Agreement committing our community to reducing its carbon emissions as a response to the Kyoto Protocols. We need to ensure that we have the resources for effective enforcement to protect the Great Lakes, drinking water and air quality.
Supporting Progressive Values
I am proud to have supported progressive issues throughout my entire career both in politics and in the nonprofit sector. Though our state has made many strides over the years, we have stepped back in some areas. I am a strong supporter of a women’s right to choose and voted against legislation that prevents private insurance companies from offering coverage for abortion without the purchase of a special rider. I have strongly condemned the attacks on organizations that provide health and counseling services to women. In addition, I believe that we need to remove laws that hinder the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender individuals. I support legislation expanding the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include protections for the LGBT Community. I also sponsored legislation to repeal Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage because I believe that all people should be afforded the opportunity to marry the person that they love and celebrated the Supreme Court decision that struck down this ban. I also offered an amendment to the state budget to prevent state funds from being used for court costs defending Michigan’s unconstitutional and discriminatory anti-marriage law. I have been and will continue to be a voice to protect the rights of underrepresented people across our state.