While the governor’s address was one of her more optimistic speeches — and I hope she stays true to her word on some of the topics she touched on — she missed the mark on issues that matter most to people in Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.
There are so many areas where both sides of the aisle can, and should, work together to make real progress for a better Michigan.
I was encouraged to hear the governor discuss tax relief. Unfortunately, she is backing the plan introduced by Democrats in the Legislature, which creates an uneven playing field for seniors based on their type of retirement income. It also fails to fully provide relief for a number of years.
In contrast, the Republican plan I support would deliver immediate tax relief for all seniors, as well as hardworking people and their families. Folks in the U.P. and beyond continue to struggle to make ends meet due to rampant inflation, and the exponentially increasing costs in essentials such as gas and groceries. They need relief now.
As a fiscal conservative, I am in favor of all tax breaks, but I’m disappointed the governor and other Democrats didn’t reach far enough to eliminate the retirement tax for seniors who spent their lives working in the private sector. With a state surplus of over $9 billion, we must work together to deliver tax relief now.
I was encouraged to hear the governor discuss funding apprenticeships and initiatives, which help so many Yoopers, along with adding to the $1 billion already invested in public safety. As a fellow first responder, I know this will greatly benefit law enforcement and first-responders.
What won’t help are red flag and gun storage laws, which Gov. Whitmer implied would reduce violence. This is simply not true. These radical proposals will only erode due process protections, and negatively impact innocent, legal and responsible gun owners.
The governor also touched on several costly new initiatives that would leave Michigan taxpayers footing the bill. Ideas like free pre-Kindergarten programs for all make great soundbites – but they’re just not feasible, especially in the U.P. With an extreme shortage of teachers and substitute teachers, who does the governor think is going to lead these new classes? We don’t have enough teachers, bus drivers or cafeteria workers as it stands. Superintendents and principals are plugging the gaps here in the Upper Peninsula.
Affordable and reliable energy is something that matters a tremendous amount to people in the U.P. Michigan is losing its baseload energy resources at an alarming rate, and we must tread very carefully in this area. I know we need to incorporate some renewable energy into our infrastructure, technology, and homes. However, we’re moving too fast. We must use the best available technology, and cannot move forward with a renewable base supply for all. If we continue on the path the governor prefers, blackouts and brownouts will become reality.
People in my district, comprised of six Upper Peninsula counties, heard nothing promising or relevant to their daily lives or struggles from the governor. She managed to mention Detroit, all of its sports teams, and Michigan State University’s basketball coach several times in her speech. After, I was left wondering… what about us? What about broadband access? Is that a luxury Gov. Whitmer doesn’t grasp? Internet is still widely inaccessible up here. Affordable housing and access to mental health care are problems the Upper Peninsula has faced for years. Some families and individuals are forced to drive several hours to receive care. These issues were ignored.
I’m willing to reach across the aisle because I know we must work together to find solutions to these unique problems. I just hope the governor is willing to listen and better understand the needs of all Michiganders, not just those who live below the bridge.
State Rep. Dave Prestin is in his first term representing the 108th House District, which encompasses the Upper Peninsula counties of Delta, Menominee, Schoolcraft, Luce, as well as portions of Chippewa, and Mackinac.
State Rep. Dave Prestin today called for additional oversight of economic development projects funded by state tax dollars after two projects with ties to the Chinese Communist Party recently received state approval.
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