Opinion | Democrats helped Michigan workers with tax, jobs, other measures
After historic wins during the first six months of this legislative term, our Democratic majority voted to repeal the retirement tax, expand the Earned Income Tax Credit and strengthen the rights of workers.
As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I worked with colleagues to craft a budget that included record investments in education, public safety and mental health. My motivation for serving as state representative continues to be to reverse historic underinvestment in Genesee County and always ensure our community has a seat at the table. I expanded those efforts into three broad categories and identified support areas for each: helping people here, people we can bring back and all the people in between.
The People Here: Office of Economic Transition
As we embrace greener and cleaner energy, folks have expressed concerns about what that means for the people who are working in the sectors of the economy of today and if they will be included in the economy of tomorrow.
The choice between combating climate change and creating good paying jobs is a false one. I was presented with an idea of creating an Office of Economic Transition. This office would help bring together various programs administered by other departments and foster collaborations between the private and public sectors and between state and local governments. Representing an area that knows all too well the experience of auto manufacturers moving away and the devastating impact, we worked to include those displaced in the auto industry in the purview of this office. We were able to pass this legislation out of the Legislature on party line votes, and it now heads to the governor’s desk.
Genesee County has all too often been overlooked and undervalued. Job loss is not just about the numbers that make up an economy, but the families and communities that can be hurt. I am thankful that we were able to include the Office of Economic Transition in the climate change package championed by my colleagues so that workers will always be included in conversations about the future of our economy.
The People We Can Bring Back: R&D Tax Credit
The Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit is an incentive offered to support projects that are on the cutting edge of innovation. Federally, the R&D tax credit’s roots go back to reforms in the tax code of 1954 to incentivize domestic growth. Since that time, 37 states have adopted their own version of an R&D tax credit. Michigan is the only midwestern state without this credit. Businesses ranging from automakers looking to develop electric vehicles to medical research facilities working on life-saving treatments have pointed to Michigan’s lack of an R&D tax credit as a major inhibitor to growth.
Through months of conversations, workgroups and going back to the drawing board repeatedly, the politics and the policy of the issue were both in sync and teed us up for a major bipartisan win. The R&D package passed the House 79-31.
The R&D tax credit will spur creativity and innovation here in Michigan and make us a leader in the Midwest. This will incentivize businesses considering a move to remain in Michigan. The benefits to our economy will be substantial, but even more important is the chance to innovate lifesaving medicines and new forms of technology because of this legislation. Many of the companies who moved away from Michigan or never gave us an opportunity will now see that Michigan means business.
All the People In Between: Paid Family Medical Leave Study
An area of public policy where our country and our state are far behind is the lack of a system of paid family and medical leave. Over a dozen states and over 120 different countries have a system of paid leave. The federal government passing the Family and Medical Leave Act in 1993 was a major step in the right direction, but 30 years later, there is more to do. No one should have to choose between caring for a dying loved one, tending to a newborn baby, healing from a personal illness and falling behind on bills.
Designing a paid family medical leave system for Michigan will take time, but those efforts will be worth the work. This would incentivize young couples to choose Michigan over other less family-friendly states and interest folks who are middle-aged and worried about caring for their aging parents. At a deeper level than positive economic trends, this program would honor the dignity and justice of Michiganders.
This legislative term, we have made history in the Michigan Capitol. Understanding the community I represent and with some experience in Lansing under my belt, my team and I got to work on some major wins for the people that are currently here, the people we can bring back, and all of the people in between.
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