What is Michigan’s most pressing need and how, specifically, would you meet that need?
Michigan’s current most pressing need is stopping the pollution and contamination of our air and water. The Flint Water Crisis is just the canary in the coalmine for our crumbling water infrastructure across the state, and as more communities are discovering PFA contamination in their drinking water, the future health of all our citizens is in jeopardy. A Green New Deal for Michigan means transforming our economy from one of corporate greed focused on minimum wage part-time workers with few benefits to one focused on workers, families, and the future of our children with clean, green jobs.
What, if anything, should the state Legislature do to assist municipalities and school districts whose solvency is threatened by its financial obligations to current and future retirees?
One of the reasons why these financial obligations are seemingly insolvent is because the state is not properly funding these municipalities. This is a problem that comes from decades of unfunded mandates via blue and red administrations. The state’s true obligation is to the people of Michigan, not to these corporate interests, and for decades these corporate interests have pushed lobbyists to loosen these laws, and have helped to create these financial deficits in schools and municipalities. We must create a fund by the state for any gaps between current funding for retirees.
A commission appointed by Gov. Snyder concluded that Michigan is spending far less than it needs to spend to maintain its roads, bridges, and public utilities. Do you agree? If so, where would you find more money for maintaining and improving Michigan’s infrastructure?
I completely agree that Michigan is spending far less than it needs to on our infrastructure. We must create tougher standards for trucking weight limits, ensure across the board that proper contracts are made for all future road repairs and improvements, and ensure that the state takes advantage of all federal dollars for infrastructure improvements including for technology infrastructure. We must be economical about these improvements, and lay new water and sewer infrastructure and technology infrastructure at the same time we fix our roads.
Do you believe Michigan’s tax system is generally fair? If not, what changes do you support?
We must move to a progressive income tax, taxing the top 1% of state incomes the most and ensuring those at the bottom are taxed the least. We must change the way we think about taxation, stop allowing corporate welfare for the largest companies in our state and create a system of taxation that is fair and puts our state priority on public needs over corporate greed and profiteering. We can increase the income tax exemption and increase the state’s current poverty level, creating a multi-tiered system of taxation that relieves the burden on the bottom 20%.
What steps, if any, should Michigan take to provide or strengthen health care coverage for its residents?
Health care is a human right. We must move to a single payer health care system in Michigan and in our country. We must remove profiteering from health care, including banning drug commercials, and work with the federal government to allow the state to negotiate fair drug prices for all to bring down the costs of prescription drugs. We can create a single-payer system by looking at the systems of countries around the world that have similar scale economies of our state. We must also ensure this coverage extends to dental, vision, and mental health needs of all residents.
What steps, if any, should the Legislature take to make college and other post-secondary training more affordable?
We must make public colleges and universities free of charge for all Michiganders. A highly educated populace is imperative to our state’s economy, and we must first start with making public colleges free and then transition to public universities. The state already allows for Early College programs in high schools, and we must fund and encourage these programs statewide so students can take advantage of working towards college degrees and trade certifications in high school. The state should create publicly funded trade schools within public colleges to extend these offerings.
Have you signed a pledge to support or oppose any organization’s public policy objectives, such as outlawing abortion or barring any increase in taxes?
Do you support a constitutional amendment that would establish a citizen’s commission to take over the responsibility for drawing Michigan’s congressional and legislative boundaries? Why or why not?
Yes. Michigan residents should choose their elected representatives, not the other way around. This has created the current atmosphere in our state of non-transparent government and corporate influence due to the lack of accountability publicly elected officials have to their constituents. It is imperative that Michigan moves to a fully transparent and accountable government, and creating a citizens commission for gerrymandering to ensure competitive elections and more accountable and transparent public officials is the first step.
What changes, if any, would you support in the way Michigan authorizes and regulates charter schools?
We must end the for-profit charter school system in Michigan. This for-profit system has allowed private corporations to profit off of public tax dollars and has driven down student achievement statewide. Any not-for-profit charter schools that operate within the state must be publicly accountable to the communities they are located in. There must be more regulations that bring them up to par with requirements that public schools have to adhere to. There must also be regulations in place that prevent charter schools from closing while the school year is in session.
Do you support decriminalization of recreational marijuana?
Yes. The decriminalization of recreational marijuana will allow for a new source of tax revenue, but we must still keep medicinal marijuana separate in terms of both regulation and taxation. We must use this opportunity to end the drug war, by expunging all prior possession records, and immediately releasing all those currently incarcerated for possession. Once marijuana is fully decriminalized, our state will have the opportunity to take advantage of industrial hemp as a new cash crop. Growing hemp will open up myriads of new industries for our state, creating jobs and additional revenue.
Do you support efforts to change the law that awards all of Michigan’s electoral votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the state’s popular vote?
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