If you haven’t heard about the #mi2020 Scholarship, you’ve likely been hiding under a rock for the past couple of days. With $10,000 on the line, the competition is causing quite a stir. Here at the Senate Democratic Caucus, we’re pretty excited too. Not only does the competition have the potential to be the difference between pursuing and not pursuing a higher education for one special high school senior, it represents something much larger.
What the #mi2020 Scholarship will do for one Michigan student is what the Michigan 2020 Plan, to be introduced in bill draft form this week, could do for ALL of Michigan’s students. That’s right, roughly $10,000 per year toward a college education for all Michigan students who receive their high school diploma. For many, this will be the difference in whether they choose to pursue a higher education, or the dread that student loan debt represents will be simply too much to bear. The 2020 Plan could be the jumpstart that Michigan needs not only to come out of this recession, but to come out on top.
But we’ll get to all that when the time comes. In the meantime, we’d like to see ALL high school seniors in Michigan give us their best shot in a short video portraying why they, and perhaps many they know, would benefit from the 2020 Plan being enacted. Any high school senior can enter, whether they attend public school, private school or home school.
On the website, mi2020video.com, students and their parents can find all the information they need in order to enter the competition. Remember to focus on the 2020 Plan in your video, and the effect that the Plan being enacted (passed through the legislature) would have on your life. Not sure where to start? In the “How to Enter” section, and above in this post, you’ll find a sample video that we made to get your creative juices flowing. Don’t have access to some of the technologies you might need to create the video? Once you begin the registration process, you’ll come to a page where you can type in your zip code to find local libraries and other locations that may be able to help. We are also encouraging schools to get involved, and make IT resources readily available for students wanting to apply. This opportunity could result in a life drastically changed, will it be yours?
Today’s the day. 10 million taxpayer dollars are going directly toward funding the Republican Primary. Despite the Democrats’ urging them not to do so, Republicans forged ahead with their plans to waste taxpayer money. Money that Republicans so nonchalantly removed from the School Aid Fund, pensions, public services and the unemployed.
As Senate Democrats made clear in session, the primary could and should be held through a caucus, to keep Michigan taxpayers from footing the bill. All other political parties are nominating their candidates through privately funded processes, an option which Republicans threw out the window.
Not only did they insist on this unnecessary primary, Republicans even went so far as to add President Obama to the ballot, fabricating a Democratic primary to hide behind their own actions with bipartisan illusions. If you’re going to blow 10 million taxpayer dollars, at least be transparent in doing so.
Where, oh where is the shared sacrifice that our Governor so proudly spoke of? Senior citizens, students and the unemployed are feeling the sting, but Republicans somehow carry on as if we have all the money in the world, when it comes to their own interests.
What will be the result? I think Sen. Gretchen Whitmer sums it up well:
In this year’s State of the State address, the Governor offered a lot less than he did last year in terms of smart, forward-thinking policies. My guess – this is probably a result of his failure to enact such proposals. A lot of the positives he took credit for, like the lowest unemployment rate since 2008 and the comeback of the auto industry, were the result of President Obama’s policies, not his.
Important proposals from last year’s address, such as universal access to preventative healthcare; prenatal through higher education support for Michigan’s students; and approval of the New International Trade Crossing all went unfulfilled in 2011. While he touched on some of them again this year, he failed to mention what he’ll do to ensure we see these changes this time around.
The items he highlighted as successes, like obliterating limits on charter schools and individual tax policies, were failures in my book. And the things he could have done on behalf of Michigan’s citizens, he either refused or could not do. Again, this year’s speech contained several positives, but the question remains if Gov. Snyder will be too constrained by his Republican counterparts in the Legislature.
The Governor reiterated his support for PA 4, the atrocious Emergency Manager law, claiming it is needed to help communities solve their own problems when, in fact, we know the opposite is true. He said he will focus on strengthening public safety, but his budget cuts to revenue sharing that municipalities rely on to provide those services flies in the face of funding police and fire protection. And he spoke about establishing a strong social safety net, amazingly ignoring the fact that his Republican colleagues passed – and he signed – the bills that dismantled support systems for Michiganders struggling in this economy, which include: elimination of the state earned income tax credit, drastic reductions in unemployment insurance, unrealistic parameters for obtaining worker’s compensation and much more.
The Gerber partnership on childhood obesity, creation of a regional transit authority and the establishment of a healthcare exchange, as prescribed by President Obama’s signature healthcare reform legislation, were three promising points in the speech.
I fully support keeping our children healthy. I have championed regional transit for four years in the Legislature and am glad to partner with Gov. Snyder on this economic development issue. And I couldn’t be happier to know that he is on board with President Obama’s healthcare reform initiative. I look forward to working with the Governor this year in passing the parts of his agenda that would help people, not his party’s wealthy benefactors. On the policies that I believe will harm the people of Michigan, I will continue to be a strong and vocal opposition leader.
Like many Michiganders, I watched the Governor’s State of the State address hoping to be inspired. I hoped to hear about policy objectives for 2012 that would highlight the Governor’s plan to finally move forward in a way that was bi-partisan, perhaps signify “shared sacrifice” to finally come from the 1%, and to actually create the jobs that were supposedly “Job One.”
Needless to say, I was disappointed. As were the many Michiganders watching from their homes, praying that this would be the year that we would actually see this “relentless positive action.” The Governor talked about jobs, sure. He talked about them long enough to ever-so-modestly take credit for the recent drop in unemployment, though curiously left out the details as to why that drop may or may not have occurred.
I shouldn’t leave out the fact that the Governor acknowledged that our veterans are without work. One minor detail he missed was that not only are they without work, veterans in Michigan actually have the highest rate of unemployment in the entire country. The Governor’s grand scheme to solve this problem? A suggestion – businesses should hire veterans. If this is the best we’ve got, we’re in trouble, folks. Fortunately, the Senate Democrats have come up with a plan to incentivize the hiring of veterans within small businesses. The plan would be mutually beneficial. Perhaps the Governor intends to work with the Senate Democrats in order to get this legislation passed? One can hope.
For someone who touts research and metrics so frequently, the Governor left out a lot of specifics. In the short amount of time that was spent actually talking about moving forward, the speech could be summed up in one word – “vague.” Perhaps the Governor was trying to play it safe, not stick his neck out enough that he could be called out on his misguidance. If Michigan is going to see real change, this is not the way to do it. We’re going to need to be bold, in a tangible way.
The Michigan 2020 Plan, introduced by Democrats last week, is a far cry from the ambiguity we’ve seen in this administration. The plan is bold, attainable, and could bring about massive change in the trajectory of this state’s economy.
Among the highlights is the fact that this plan would allow all students in Michigan who obtain a high school diploma to be eligible to have their college tuition paid for. The number one question – “Where will the money come from?” – can be answered simply. Not with a single cent of increased taxes for Michiganders. The funding would come from closing ineffective tax loopholes that have been carved out by lobbyists, as well as cutting costs within state contracts.
Moreover, while higher education can be viewed as a “feel-good” form of investment, the reality is it would also bring about real economic growth. Economists everywhere note that higher education is absolutely the key to a thriving economy, as witnessed in our own state’s Kalamazoo Promise program. According to a report from The Center for Michigan, “In the six years since the announcement of the Promise, the Kalamazoo region has outpaced the rest of the state on a wide range of economic metrics.” The report goes on to note the effects on salary, population, housing and more.
The bottom line is this – if we’re ever to see Michigan recover from rock bottom, we’re going to need to see real change. I hope that the Governor, along with the rest of his party, will see the value in a plan that is specific, measurable, attainable and most of all, the right thing to do.
Apparently the Senate Republicans just don’t think that Michigan’s unemployed have suffered enough. As introduced today, Senate Bill 806 is yet another blatant attack at Michigan’s unemployed. The bill would make further changes to Michigan’s unemployment insurance and benefits law that would undoubtedly lead to reduced eligibility amongst unemployed workers. In case Michigan’s unemployed aren’t already facing quite enough hardships and fearing for their families’ well-being as it is, the bill introduced by the Republicans today aims to make it even more difficult to receive the aid they so desperately need.
With little options in such a strongly Republican-led Senate, our members exercised their constitutional right to have the bill read out loud, with the intention of forcing Republicans to stare into the face of the reality of this painstaking bill, as opposed to passing it along aimlessly, without a second glance. There is nothing in the Senate rules that technically allows members to introduce a bill without reading it in, a process which sometimes allows members to be all too far removed from the bills. The Senate Democrats hoped that in forcing the Republicans to look more closely at the bill, they might better understand the severity of the results it will undoubtedly have on their unemployed constituents.
Senator Randy Richardville apparently did not like this idea and retaliated with a threat to lay off members of the Senate Democratic Staff – ironic considering the topic at hand. It seems that the Senate Republicans don’t want to come to terms with the content of their proposed bills, afraid that the public might catch on to their ill-conceived plans. Also ironic is the fact that Sen. Richardville’s behavior on the floor would probably qualify as bullying under the bill we just passed – whether he would like to acknowledge it or not.