A Green New Deal for Michigan

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Presented to the People of Michigan

Jennifer V. Kurland

Green Party Candidate for Governor

Read the document as a pdf by clicking here

 

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This is a high-level plan for a Green New Deal for Michigan. As your next Governor, I pledge to include all stakeholders in every policy decision as we transform Michigan’s economy. This means that a high-level plan is necessary because we need to create the details together, with citizens, field experts, and workers all coming to the table to form the fine details of these plans that will become the reality in our state.

I’m running for this office because I believe that I’m the best candidate for the job. I believe in doing my own research, in having an understanding of all the issues in our state and how they are all interconnected. Issues of infrastructure are connected to issues of small business, which are connected to public education, which is also connected to environmental issues.

For too long our state has been run back and forth by red and blue politicians whose regard is mainly for their corporate donors rather than the health, wellbeing, and economic security of Michiganders. Climate change is real, and is a threat to both our national security and our livelihoods. Without a diverse small business community, robust public education, and preventative health care, residents of Michigan will continue to feel the effects of the Great Recession until the next recession hits, and at that point it will be much more difficult for our state to recover.

I believe this plan is necessary for the future of our state, and I am running because I believe I am the leader who can see it through to fruition.

 

 

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Day 1           Task Attorney General to look at all components of the state contracts with Enbridge around Line 5 for violations and begin the shutdown and decommission of the pipeline.

                    Order National Guard to Flint to set up water pods around the city to provide clean, safe drinking water to residents.

                    Bring leadership of the Department of Environmental Quality and Department of Natural Resources together to begin the process of re-merging the two departments.

 

Day 2            Planning stages begin for Citizen Commission for Insurance.

                     Planning stages begin for Small Business Grant program.

                     Send out public notices for 4 Town Halls to be scheduled throughout the year around the state.

                     Begin review of cases of possession of marijuana for pardons and commutations.

           

Day 7            Task Attorney General to create an independent, non-partisan commission to investigate all aspects of the Flint Water Crisis.

                     Create task force on prisons and policing.

                     Task the Department of Transportation to create database of roads and road repairs.

 

Day 14          Begin work on next year’s budget priorities.

                     Sit down with the Michigan Civil Rights Commission to discuss expanding Elliott-Larsen, issues of investigations and levying fines, and the who’s and how’s needed to give them teeth.

 

Day 30          Send out public notices for new citizen comments around health care.

Create committee on creating Gap Insurance in Michigan.

                       

Day 45          Task the Secretary of State to review election procedures in Michigan, including audits, and tabulators in use.

                     Begin work on gun control legislation.

 

Day 60          Have preliminary reports on the merging of the DEQ/DNR.

                     Have preliminary reports on the Citizen Commission for Insurance.

                     Have preliminary reports on Small Business Grant program.

 

Day 75          Have preliminary reports on next year’s budget priorities.

                     Have preliminary reports on Michigan Civil Right’s Commission’s expansion of powers.

                     Have preliminary report on database of roads and road repairs.

 

Day 90          First Citizen Town Hall

                     Have preliminary reports on Gap Insurance.

                     Have rough draft on gun control legislation.

 

                       

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Members of both the Democrat and Republican parties caused the Flint Water Crisis. Flint is the canary in the coalmine of many issues across our state including children with lead poisoning, crumbling water and sewer infrastructure, pollution, and government corruption. The people of Flint must be made whole and those who caused the crisis must be brought to justice.

 

  • Pipe Replacement

    • I fully support the Flint Finance Committee’s call for accountability over the funds that have been sent to the city to fix the crisis that have yet to make it to the citizens.

    • Until every pipe is replaced in the city, the National Guard must be on the ground with water pods across the city.

    • The entire water and sewer infrastructure in Flint must be replaced.

    • Residents with galvanized pipes must also have their pipes replaced by the state

  • Public Education

    • All children in Flint should be considered lead-exposed/poisoned

    • For educational purposes, this means additional supports for issues of learning disabilities, behavioral issues, and other side effects of lead poisoning that affect education.

  • Water Credits

    • The people of Flint have a justified distrust in government, and water credits for a decade is one way of healing this divide, as well as a form of restitution.

    • Residents should also receive a tax credit for ruined appliances

  • Health Care

    • The state is fully responsible and culpable for the poisoning of the people of Flint, and their health problems that have come from this crisis must be taken care of.

    • The cost of healthcare for the people of Flint alone is the most costly piece of this plan, and creating a statewide single payer system will make that plan much more affordable.

  • Emergency Management

    • The Emergency Manager Law, PA-436 must be repealed.

    • Further protections of citizen referendums must also be addressed, including limitations on the power of “lame duck” legislatures.

 

            The costs to make Flint whole range between $1.2 - $5.4 billion. Some of these costs are one-time only, and others are ongoing. The state’s “rainy day” fund must be used for some of these costs, and the costs of healthcare will be rolled into a full single payer plan for the state. Additional funding for public education assistance can be come from reallocating funds currently going to state prisons for non-violent drug offenders once marijuana is legalized, and tax credits for Flint residents’ water rates would be offset from various sources, including the rainy day fund and pollution permits.

 

 

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            For too long, the children of Michigan have been left behind with continued cuts to public education and the vilification of teachers in our state. We must properly fund K-12 education, and work towards making all public colleges and universities free to any Michigander who wants to further their education.       

 

  • Students

    • Recent studies have shown that the baseline funding amount per student should be approximately $10,000.

    • This baseline does not include transportation costs, special education, infrastructure, or other additional costs.

    • There must be a limit on the number of children in a K-12 classroom per teacher.

      • This should vary by age, with understanding that lower class sizes in the elementary grades are of utmost importance, and high school students should be given college opportunities.

    • Literacy is a fundamental piece of education, and should be a right for all children.

  • Pre-K

    • Recent studies have shown that the baseline funding per student should be approximately $15,000.

    • This baseline does not include the same additional costs.

    • Pre-K education should be funded through the state and be accessible to all.

  • Teachers

    • There must be funding for teacher professional development.

    • With the current crisis of a teacher shortage, we need to create incentives for new teachers in the form of scholarships.

  • Curriculum

    • There must be full funding for curriculum, including new books and an administrator for each district.

    • International Baccalaureate curriculum should be studied and supported for all school districts.

    • The state should extend and improve Early College opportunities for all school districts.

    • We must teach comprehensive sex education.

    • We must teach consent at age-appropriate levels across all grades.

  • Infrastructure

    • The ability of a school district to raise a millage should not be tied to property values.

    • The state must fund an annual infrastructure allowance to every school district.

  • Special Education

    • The state must send additional funding for special education needs to all school districts that have children with lead poisoning attending.

    • Wraparound services must be fully funded

  • Homeschooling

    • There must be proper checks in place for children who are homeschooled.

    • This should include home visits coordinated by the school district in which they reside.

    • Homeschooled children must also have access to after school activities and electives.

  • Charter Schools

    • The practice of charter schools in Michigan is a failed experiment that must be ended.

    • The practice of school of choice must also be ended.

    • On the countywide level, specialty schools for STEAM/STEM, the Arts, and trades should be offered.

      • Counties that choose to have these specialty schools should then have a publicly elected board for accountability.

  • Higher Education

    • Access to higher education should be free. 

    • Public colleges are the model to start with; moving to universities after the model is shown to work.

    • Students have a right to be safe at college, and cases of harassment, rape, and other Title IX violations should fall under the jurisdiction of local police departments and misconduct by the universities should fall under the jurisdiction of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission.

    • Within public colleges should be additional supports for marketing and accounting for small business grantees.

    • Classes for gun licensing should also be offered to keep training affordable.

    • Expansion of skilled trades must also be supported within public colleges, including jobs of tomorrow.

 

Education in Michigan can be funded through numerous sources, with general fund dollars protected alongside these sources. Reallocating funding from prisons after the legalization of marijuana should be a priority. The biggest hurdle to making public universities free is the bloat at the top. Inflated salaries of university presidents on the backs of struggling students is unethical and must be checked with accountability. Michigan is one of only 5 states that does not fund public school infrastructure, and this funding should be earmarked for local districts. We must also look into the possible funding of free breakfast and lunch for all grade school students, an expense that already has some federal supplements that would also fit into this budget.

 

 

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            Infrastructure across Michigan, including water and sewer pipes, oil and gas pipelines, and our roads and bridges have been left to disrepair for too long. There must be a long-term plan and budget for continuous improvement going forward including for technology.  

 

  • Roads and Bridges

    • We need a statewide database of when and how our roads and bridges are repaired.

      • This database must include materials used, warranties, and a schedule of maintenance and repair.

    • Where there are high rates of accidents or fatalities involving deer, land bridges should be created to promote road and environmental safety.

  • Water and Sewer

    • The same statewide database of repair and maintenance should include water and sewer infrastructure.

    • Grants should be created for the upgrades of water treatment plants around the state for storm capacity.

    • Water treatment plants should be equipped with the best filtering technology to remove any and all contaminants possible.

  • Technology

    • In order to be a business leader of the future, our state must be fully connected to the internet.

      • Taking advantage of all federal grant funds to lay this infrastructure should be a priority.

    • Mass Transit

      • We must create a mass transit system across Michigan.

      • Connecting Detroit, Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Traverse City and spoking out from those hubs will make this the most efficient system.

      • This transit system needs to be above ground and utilize green energy for power.

      • Studies need to be done with citizens in the Upper Peninsula to figure out the best way of connecting the lower and upper peninsulas for transit.

    • Pipelines

      • We must immediately shut down and decommission Line 5.

      • A moratorium must be placed on all new and current pipeline infrastructure until new, full environmental assessments are done.

 

We are currently being fiscally irresponsible with our infrastructure funding. With road repairs under the authority of the state, counties, and local municipalities, there are no checks and balances for equitable repairs. As we repair roads, the most fiscally responsible way to do the repairs is to fix the water and sewer systems underneath at the same time and lay technology infrastructure at the same time, too. We need to lower truck weight limits to limit the damage to our roads and ensure that repairs hold. Once marijuana is legalized, we can innovate with a new material for our roads with hemp-concrete. This material has the potential to be the solution to our roads issue both for long-term wear and tear and weather damage. The state can issue bonds to fund the initial costs of a statewide mass transit system, while an above ground, green-energy-run transit system will be less costly to operate and maintain over time. Switching our economy over to one of clean, green renewable energy with good paying union jobs building wind farms, solar panels, and investing in innovation of hydro energy will make the transition off of fossil fuels and the closing of pipelines more seamless and economically beneficial.

 

 

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As the Great Lakes State, we are the main stewards of the planet’s largest source of fresh water. We should not be giving it away to the lowest bidder, and we should not be allowing companies that pollute our waterways to be free from the costs of the health and environmental damage that they cause.

 

  • Oil and Gas Pipelines

    • Line 5 Must be decommissioned and shut down completely

      • This is a real and eminent threat to our Great Lakes and our economy.

    • All other pipelines running oil and natural gas through our state must have new and rigorous environmental assessments.

    • Companies that own and run these pipelines must be required to pay the full costs of environmental cleanups.

  • Water Withdrawals

    • Damage from water withdrawals from companies like Nestle have been causing damage to our wetlands, lowering of local groundwater tables, and other environmental damage to all bodies of water.

    • The Michigan DEQ/DNR must be able to deny permits based on public comment, and should be the ones creating environmental assessments instead of allowing these corporations to police themselves and create their own studies.

    • Water usage fees for large capacity water withdrawals should be more than a permit fee, and should also be more than municipal water fees due to the usage amount.

    • The Great Lakes Compact must be strengthened to tie up the loopholes these companies are using across the Great Lakes region.

  • Pollution

    • Fish Advisories

      • The pollution in our lakes and rivers are directly tied to long-term contamination and can be documented based on bioaccumulation in fish.

      • The testing of our fish must be more stringent, and should include other contaminants that are known to be harmful to human health and have been used as a pollutant over the past 50+ years.

      • Currently DDT is present in 1.4% of tested waterways.

      • Currently Dioxins are present in 5.6% of tested waterways.

      • Currently Mercury is present in 92.8% of tested waterways.

      • Currently PCBs are present in 29.9% of tested waterways.

      • Selenium, Toxaphene, and PFAs are also present in waterways across our state, with the PFA crisis growing exponentially.

    • PFA Contamination

      • This is a growing crisis around our state with 28 counties affected.

      • This chemical has recently been found in deer and is known to be present in fish.

      • This chemical has also recently been found in municipal water supplies across the state.

    • Lead Poisoning

      • The only children who get regularly tested for lead are those who are on public assistance.

      • 43% of the counties in our state have children with lead poisoning.

      • The environmental factors of lead poisoning are air pollution, water pollution, and contaminated soil.

      • Lead poisoning causes behavioral issues, learning disabilities, and is epigenetic.

    • Beach Closures

      • This is a statewide issue felt on the local level everywhere.

      • Oftentimes these closures are after-the-fact notices a day or two after there has been contamination on a beach.

      • Swimming in contaminated water can cause waterborne diseases and other illnesses.

      • Beach closures can be caused by sewage overflows, and are directly tied to the statewide need of upgrading water treatment plants.

    • Waterborne Diseases

      • In recent years there have been an increase in cases of legionnaire’s disease and hepatitis A across southeast Michigan.

      • Legionnaire’s disease is an under diagnosed disease and is potentially caused by crumbling water infrastructure.

      • Hepatitis A has been tied to water shutoffs and potentially the opioid epidemic.

        • The issue of Hepatitis A is also tied to worker’s rights and the lack of sick time and paid leave.

      • Alternative Energy

        • Fracking (hydraulic fracturing)

          • There are 8 different natural gas plants across the state that have requested new builds or expansions this year.

          • Fracking leaks methane, which is more dangerous to climate change than CO2.

          • Fracking has been linked to earthquakes in Oklahoma, groundwater contamination in Pennsylvania, and the process is exempted from the Clean Water Act for the public’s right to know which chemicals are used and how they stay in our groundwater supply.

        • Wind

          • There’s potential to power 11+% of Michigan’s energy with one wind farm in the northwestern corner of the state.

          • New windmills have become much more efficient over the years, and the critique of their danger to migratory birds has been mitigated by new designs and changes in geographic placement.

        • Solar

          • Solar panels are being utilized in new ways every year, and have become as thin and flexible as plexiglass.

          • Other innovations in solar panels are as windows of high-rise buildings, on roofs of businesses and vehicles.

          • The potential to power Michigan with solar is high due to these new innovations in technology.

          • China recently laid a mile’s worth of solar paneled roadway, and this could also have potential in certain parts of the state.

        • Geothermal

          • Michigan’s capacity for geothermal power is limited due to our groundwater table.

          • For new buildings and builds, this is a potential way to keep energy costs low, but is not an efficient alternative source of energy to power the state.

        • Hydro

          • Hydro-energy is where Michigan has the most potential to be a leader in clean, green renewable energy.

          • With the power of the Great Lakes, and innovating technology already in use across Europe, Michigan can become a leader in this technology.

        • Public Lands

          • We must protect our public lands for hunting and fishing which is an important part of our economy and population control of deer.

 

There are plenty other environmental issues across our state including Superfund and Brownfield sites and other issues, including how our tourism industry is reliant on our environment and access to the Great Lakes. One way to protect our Great Lakes is to start charging the true cost of doing business to corporate polluters, including fees for discharge that includes cleanup costs, healthcare costs to residents affected by the pollution, and to carry insurance that would cover the full costs of all cleanups instead of having that burden on taxpayers. The Kalamazoo River Oil Spill is a prime example of how corporations shift the cleanup burden on taxpayers, and how their profit has taken precedence over public health and fiscal responsibility to taxpayers. The innovation of new green technologies of wind, solar, and hydro would also be economically beneficial to the state in the form of new jobs and industries that are long-term future industries.

 

 

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The United States currently does not have a health care system set up for preventative care. All Michiganders should have access to see a physician whenever necessary. We must end the practice of water shutoffs across the state as a public health issue, and properly fund mental health care.

 

  • Health Care

    • Healthcare is a human right.

    • Removing the profiteering from healthcare will lower costs for everyone, and by creating a state “Gap” insurance to cover those currently ineligible for Medicare/Medicaid/VA healthcare, etc.

    • A tiered system similar to how many European countries have their systems set up will allow choice coverage and end the current limitations of doctor availability per insurance providers.

    • Including dental and vision care within these plans is important for overall health.

    • Access to abortion services is part of women’s healthcare and must be treated as such.

  • Mental Health Care

    • Michigan abandoned mental health care decades ago and there is a lot to make up for.

    • Repurposing buildings around the state to become new long-term and short-term care facilities is imperative.

    • Reforming our prison system to keep those with mental illnesses out of jail and receiving care.

  • Prescription Drugs

    • With a single payer system, the state can negotiate prescription drug prices.

    • A single payer system will also ensure vaccines are accessible to all.

  • Marijuana

    • Medicinal marijuana must stay separate from recreational marijuana.

    • A new title/profession for those who work at dispensaries that combines botany and pharmacy must be created.

  • Opioid Epidemic

    • There needs to be more access to free methadone clinics across the state.

    • Grants for those in recovery to move must also be created to help people leave situations that could hinder their recovery.

 

Creating a single-payer plan is certainly the most costly part of a Green New Deal for Michigan. Removing profit from healthcare is going to lower costs for everyone currently, and needs to be a plan-based state insurance, not a tax. Creating this system that removes profit from healthcare will also drive down costs for everyone. When profit is removed from healthcare, preventative care becomes the goal of care, which also drives down costs and improves the quality of life for all. In order to ensure we keep doctors and nurses in the state during this transition, a scholarship program can be created with a residency requirement in the state to both help aspiring doctors and nurses with affordability of college and to ensure there are safe staffing levels at hospitals.

 

 

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We must address the racism in our prison system, and have stronger conversations between police and local activists. We must end the drug war and repair broken communities.

 

  • Policing

    • We need to make it easier for communities to create citizen review boards for proper checks and balances of local police departments.

    • The Attorney General’s office, alongside local review boards must be involved in every case of civilian deaths by police officers.

    • We must properly fund our police departments, require more community policing, and fund a community liaison officer in all departments to ensure transparency, education, and outreach.

    • Properly funding our police departments must go hand-in-hand with ending civil asset forfeiture.

    • There must be a database kept across Michigan that registers the demographics of all police encounters. Cities that have a high percentage of racial disparity between those numbers and the percentage of demographics of those living in the city must address racial bias in the department with the Michigan Civil Rights Commission.

    • Officers must have continuous professional development on mental health encounters, rape investigations, and others.

    • We must raise the requirement of higher education for new officers and require training to focus more on non-lethal force and de-escalation techniques.

    • We must end the “productivity” requirements for officers to encourage more community education, and fewer citizens fined for minor infractions or imprisoned for non-payment of fines.

    • All officers must be equipped with tasers and be trained and equipped with body cameras coupled with policies that protect both officers and public privacy.

    • We must end the cash bail system, fine only after a case, and for those cases with fines allow community service hours in-lieu at a rate of $15/hour.

  • Prisons

    • Non-violent offenders should be kept out of prison as often as possible.

    • We must ensure the for-profit prison system stays out of our state.

    • Ending the corporate gouging of families is imperative, stopping companies from forcing high costs of phone calls and electronic communication with those incarcerated.

    • We must end slavery in our prison system, and require any work done by those incarcerated be paid a living wage and be part of a job-training program that will translate into full-time employment upon release.

    • We must ensure prisoners are treated as human beings, are provided rehabilitation, job training, and resources to attend school and further their education in order to best re-integrate back into society.

    • We must “Raise the Age” and stop prosecuting minors as adults.

    • Incarcerated women must have proper access to sanitary napkins and tampons. Additionally there must be further protections for pregnant women, and women who are breastfeeding.

    • Additional protections for LGBTQIA prisoners must be in place with oversight by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission.

    • Prison rape should not be tolerated, and measures must be put in place to create a safe environment for all.

    • Solitary confinement is torture, and its use must be banned.

 

Many of these issues of reforming our prison and policing system will not require additional funding, just a changing of how we allocate our resources. In cases where additional funding is needed, there are some opportunities for federal matching funds or funding available. With the legalization of marijuana and the ending of the drug war, this will free up funds currently in use in this budget to both cover some new reforms and to be reallocated to public education. Reallocating funding to public education will also curb future needs for prisons as well.

 

 

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Our state has still not recovered from the Great Recession, and when looking at other states during that time, those with strong small business economies recovered faster and suffered less. We must invest in small, local businesses and do more to encourage Michiganders to start their own companies.

 

  • Small Businesses

    • Micro-grants should be made available for new business owners to be able to create new opportunities, with preference given to those without access to start-up funds.

    • Grants for small businesses should also be made available to become ADA compliant.

    • Green energy jobs are the jobs of the future, and we can convert former manufacturing buildings into space for new opportunities of creating windmills, solar panels, and other green infrastructure.

  • Large Corporations

    • Any business that pollutes must pay the state for a permit that includes the cost of health and environmental impacts, and all chemicals used must be disclosed to the community at-large.

    • Companies must also carry insurance that cover the full cost of cleanup and damage to the local community so that burden does not fall on taxpayers.

  • Workers

    • We must have living wage jobs, and protect the prevailing wage.

    • The minimum wage must be raised immediately to $15/hour and tied to fair cost-of-living increases permanently and ongoing.

    • Large corporations that have employees on public assistance due to low wages must be assessed a penalty by the state as wage-theft.

    • Worker-owned cooperatives must be encouraged and supported.

 

Michigan used to be a leader of innovation, and our continued economic decline is due to our cuts to public education, and lack of supports for small businesses. Within a free public college system, supports for small business owners for marketing and accounting must be requirements of grant assistance to ensure successful small businesses. Funding STEAM and STEM education is going to also bring more small business opportunities in the future. We need to transition away from large corporate dominance to a more small business oriented economy to ensure a healthy economy with jobs of the future. This will also bring more revenue to our state budget to help continue funding our state. The legalization of marijuana and subsequent ability to grow industrial hemp will further bring more new jobs and industries to our state.

 

 

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As shown in the 2016 recount, and continued in the 2017 recount of Detroit’s Clerk elections, there is a serious problem of accountability in our elections. Elections are the core of our democracy, and if we do not have proper checks and balances, audits, and clear paper trails with transparency, then we do not have a democracy.

 

  • Election Integrity

    • All Michigan residents who are U.S. citizens should be automatically registered to vote upon turning 18 with an opt-out option.

    • For residents who have moved around the state, there must be a same-day address change affidavit for Election Day voting without a provisional ballot.

    • Roger’s law must be repealed to allow residents across Michigan to vote where they live without having to change their permanent residence (a return to allowing easier student voting).

    • Elections must be fully publicly funded without any corporate, PAC, or Super-PAC influence allowed.

    • Truth in media must also be returned, with a full accountability of media donors and ad revenue shared with candidates being interviewed and a requirement of fair coverage for all candidates.

  • Election Audits

    • Precinct chairpersons should keep all ballot tabs, and under dual presence count all tabs and all physical ballots cast in a precinct to ensure a match with the poll book results.

    • There must be requirements ensuring both computer safety and machine safety from tampering

      • All keys and programming codes must be held by different people in a local Clerk’s office, with two employees splitting any numeric codes as part of dual control.

    • Every election must have a full audit started within 1 week of final results.

      • Each local municipality must randomly audit 10% of precincts for full accuracy of computer results to physical ballots cast.

      • Each county must randomly audit 10% of precincts for full accuracy of computer results to physical ballots cast.

      • The Secretary of State must randomly audit 10% of precincts for full accuracy of computer results to physical ballots cast.

    • Michigan must move to a ranked-choice voting system to ensure fair and transparent elections.

 

 

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There is much more to a Green New Deal than what has been presented in this overview including animal rights protections, supports for veterans, and bringing back the movie tax credit; upholding our treaties and protecting the sovereignty of our native tribes; creating a citizen commission for car insurance to bring accountability and drive down costs; fixing the issues in the state, county, and local land banks to promote housing for families and individuals rather than holding on to blocks to sell to corporations; moving to a progressive tax, and addressing gun control in a reasonable and sensible manner.

Our state needs and deserves a leader who can create and enact these policies in a fiscally responsible manner, and in an ethical and compassionate manner. Climate change is real, and we must address this issue head on in all policy decisions. The big picture in Michigan is how can our leaders make our lives better, create more opportunities for future generations, and how can we be leaders on a global stage with jobs of the future. All stakeholders must be included in creating the fine details of these plans and implementation, and together we can make Michigan a better place to live and work.

 

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