BY BTL STAFF
Watch live online as Gov. Rick Snyder addresses Michigan’s crumbling infrastructure at his seventh State of the State address on Jan. 17 at Michigan’s Capitol Building in Lansing. He continues to grapple with the Flint drinking water crisis and confronts a new emergency with a Macomb County sinkhole – nearly the size of a football field – that is swallowing homes in Fraser. You can read more about the issues he addressed in a Detroit Free Press report.
Original story from Jan. 17:
LANSING – Michigan’s Democratic leaders today called on Gov. Rick Snyder to use his State of the State address to join them in taking on a rigged system that strengthens the hand of lobbyists and special interests in Lansing at the expense of Michigan families. Democrats say state government must restore its focus on building a strong middle class and improving Michigan’s economy for all people, and that starts by tearing down a system in Lansing that’s been stacked against them for too long.
“Right now, the system in Michigan is rigged against people who work for a living,” said Senate Democratic Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint). “For the past six years, Governor Snyder and Republicans have created a government that operates in secret, and caters to special interests and campaign contributors while working people and middle-class families are left out in the cold. Our schools, roads, wages, a secure retirement and stable jobs have all taken a backseat in Republican Lansing – and that needs to change.”
Democrats called for a two-pronged effort to get state government refocused on Michigan’s working families. The first starts with government reform that reverses GOP policies that have expanded the influence of powerful insiders and donors. The second is making Michigan’s tax code work for families and rebuild the state’s schools, roads and communities.
But under Governor Snyder and Republicans, the opposite has happened. Schools are under constant threat – facing a proposed $400 million cut just last month. The GOP’s so-called road fix doesn’t actually fix the roads. Instead, it increases taxes and fees, shifting the tax burden even further onto the backs of Michigan families – a process started with the GOP’s massive $2 billion corporate tax cut in 2011.
Instead of more transparency and accountability in government, there is more secrecy and behind-closed-door decision-making. Republicans have refused to bring Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act in line with 48 other states. As a result, Michigan ranks dead last when it comes to anti-corruption laws, according to the Center for Public Integrity. Compounding the problem, the GOP has repeatedly raised contribution limits for political action committees and is considering unlimited donations for shadowy SuperPACs.
“If you work for a living and feel you like you’re being shaken down by this Republican-controlled government in Lansing, it’s because you are,” said Michigan Democratic Party Chair Brandon Dillon. “Working families are paying more taxes and getting less in return, so corporations and the wealthy can pay less and get more. Thanks to Governor Snyder and Lansing Republicans, there is more secrecy in our government and more money influencing our elected officials than ever before. Insiders and wealthy campaign donors aren’t using their dark money and influence with Republican politicians to build a stronger middle class; they’re using ill-gotten power to set the agenda for their own interests, regardless of how many lives they harm in the process.”
“Michiganders are sick of paying more in taxes and fees and getting a lot less in return,” said Senator Curtis Hertel Jr. (D-East Lansing). “We implore the Republican Legislature to restore its focus on the people that work so hard and make this state great, not billionaire special interests.”
Democrats say that Michigan must restore its focus on people who work for a living which includes fighting for a fair tax system that doesn’t place all the burden on families to pay for schools, roads, public safety and infrastructure. Workers’ wages and retirements must be protected, not attacked, and government must be accountable to those it is supposed to serve.
“Republicans who control Lansing prefer to operate in the shadows and outsource the real work to special interest groups who don’t care about what working Michiganders need,” said House Democratic Leader Sam Singh (D-East Lansing). “We need a government that actually works for the people. We call on Governor Snyder and the Republican Legislature to join us on building a stronger economy and making government accountable to the people we represent, not expanding the power of special interests and big campaign contributors.”