As a conservative Democrat, former Deputy sheriff and substitute teacher, I agree with the Governor's comments (State of the State address) in regards to legislative fiscal responsibility. We as Michiganders know better than most how to be fiscally responsible with our money, our communities, and our personal lives. What I respectfully disagree with the Governor on is the definition and how to apply that definition within our state Legislature. Being fiscally responsible as a state Legislature requires balanced money practices, ethical conduct and behavior, and producing legislation that is right and fair for all who inhabit the State of Michigan. In his State of the State Address the Governor spoke about gaining a balanced budget with a surplus of almost $1 billion, and a rainy day fund that is larger than in past years. With my law enforcement experience I know too well that there is always two sides to every story, my version of how the state is where it is today is simple.
1. The reason we have a surplus is because we have shifted the tax burden to Michigan's lower and middle-class families. By eliminating the Homestead Property Tax Credit and the $600 Child Tax Credit, they have forced these families to pay more every year with no relief. The legislature also shifted the tax burden to retirees and seniors by enacting the Senior Pension Tax. This has caused Michigan's seniors to tighten their already fixed budgets.
2. The state Legislature disregarded and abandoned workers rights with the passage of the controversial Right to Work Legislation, this bill was passed in unethical circumstances and with total disregard for working Michiganders. This created a working environment that is completely anti-worker.
3. The Governor claimed to have increased public education funding in his speech. A $1.8 billion tax exemption for corporations in the state was granted earlier this year. This exemption was given because they took money from public education funding and Michigan's middle class to satisfy their corporate interests.
Michigan has the third highest unemployment rate in the country with our average being well above the national average. Our job creation has been outsourced and we as Michiganders are forced to take low wage jobs with no commitments from these corporate employers.
So, we as Michiganders must evaluate our leadership for what they have done over the previous three years. Do we want more of the same? Or do we want better? We must decide in 10 straight months and I hope people of the 108th District will tell our legislators that enough is enough. "
Justin A. Zirkle (D)
108th House District
State of Michigan