<![CDATA[Michigan House Democrats Site Feed]]> http://www.housedems.com <![CDATA[Schor, Hertel Bills Target Brain Drain, Help with Higher Ed Costs]]> http://www.housedems.com/news/article/schor-hertel-bills-target-brain-drain-help-with-higher-ed-costs <p>LANSING – State Representative <strong>Andy Schor</strong> (D-Lansing) reintroduced and state Senator Curtis Hertel, Jr. (D-East Lansing) introduced a bill that would create an incentive to keep college students living and working in Michigan after graduation. The bill would provide tax credits for college graduates regardless of whether or not Congress comes to a consensus on student loan interest rates. It is modeled after the successful Opportunity Maine program.</p> <p>&#8220;We have the best universities in the world here in Michigan. We need to convince the graduates – whether originally from Michigan or not – that Michigan is a great place to live, work, and play. Providing $1,500 or so for five years shows them we are investing in them to help make Michigan a great place for the future,&#8221; Schor said. &#8220;Talent attraction and retention is a bipartisan issue, and has been a priority for Democrats and Republicans alike. I look forward to working with my colleagues on HB 4118 and moving it through the legislative process to Gov. Snyder for his signature. Michigan’s future is and should be our top priority. &#8220;</p> <p>Sen. Hertel introduced a version of the same bill – Senate Bill 57 – in the Senate today.</p> <p>“Far too many college graduates are crippled by student loan debt. At the same time, an alarmingly high number of graduates of Michigan universities choose to leave our state and begin their lives somewhere else,” Hertel said. “This legislation would help ease the financial burden on our young people, and give them a reason to stay here and continue moving Michigan forward.”</p> <p>In 2013, student loan interest rates for students taking out subsidized loans doubled to 6.8 percent. During that time, the U.S. Congress worked to try to keep the interest at 3.4 percent, where it had been. In May of that year, Schor and supporters gave testimony on his bill in the House Michigan Competitiveness Committee, while a similar bill also moved through the Senate, but afterward failed to get any traction in the Legislature.</p> <p>HB 4118 and SB 57 would encourage students graduating from Michigan&#8217;s higher education institutions to live and work in Michigan after graduation by offering income tax credits for a portion of their student debt. Eligible individuals could claim an income tax credit equal to 50 percent of the amount of qualified student loan payments made during a tax year – up to 20 percent of the average yearly tuition for Michigan&#8217;s public universities.</p> <![CDATA[Progressive Women’s Caucus Names its 2015-16 Leadership]]> http://www.housedems.com/news/article/progressive-women-s-caucus-names-its-2015-16-leadership <p>LANSING – State Rep. <strong>Winnie Brinks</strong> (D-Grand Rapids) has been elected to serve as chairwoman of the Progressive Women’s Caucus, a group of Lansing legislators committed to fighting for equal pay, women’s access to health care and other critical issues affecting women and their families. Other leaders elected include Vice Chairwoman Rep. <strong>Christine Greig</strong> (D-Farmington Hills), Secretary Rep. <strong>Erika Geiss</strong> (D-Taylor) and Treasurer Rep. <strong>Vanessa Guerra</strong> (D-Saginaw).</p> <p>“As women in the legislature, it’s important for us to keep in mind the impact of proposed policies on women and families, and to ensure that our voices are heard in the legislative process,” Brinks said. “The Progressive Women’s Caucus can be a valuable resource to its members by providing support and valuable knowledge to our newly elected members. It’s critical that we impact what happens in our state’s Legislature so that women’s perspectives are not overlooked, despite the fact that we are underrepresented. I look forward to leading this very impressive group of women as we move forward.”</p> <p>The Progressive Women’s Caucus will be instrumental in advancing legislation that will close the wage gap, ensure women can affordably address all their health care needs and help their families achieve financial security. The PWC includes Democratic women legislators in the House and Sen. Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor).</p> <p>“The Progressive Women’s Caucus works for legislation that is important not only to women, but to their husbands, sons, fathers and brothers,” Greig said. “When a woman is prevented from earning her worth, or kept from getting critically important cancer screenings that can save her life, it affects her entire family. I’m proud to be working with other women legislators on policies that will benefit not just women, but all Michiganders.”</p> <p>Women’s ability to access health care has been under attack in recent years. New, highly restrictive laws have placed undue burdens on the women’s health care centers that many lower-income women rely on to get cancer screenings, and a new state law requires women to purchase additional health insurance in order to cover medical care following a miscarriage.</p> <p>“A democracy functions best when laws treat all individuals fairly and equally, and yet many groups within our democratic citizenry have unique needs and concerns that also deserve attention,” Geiss said. “Issues surrounding women’s health, neonatal and infant health, or those relating to a mother’s ability to feed and care for an infant without restriction or inhibition impact the overall health and well-being of our communities and our economy. These issues should be among the primary concerns of all legislators of both genders.”</p> <p>Republicans also blocked legislation introduced in the previous session that would address the persistent wage gap between men and women. In Michigan, women earn 74 cents to each dollar earned by men, which is worse than the national wage gap of 77 percent.</p> <p>“People overwhelmingly support the idea of equal pay for equal work, and yet Republicans in Michigan have put up roadblocks to keep this from becoming a reality,” Guerra said. “Women – and the families who depend on them – simply want a fair deal in the workplace. I’m proud to work with my colleagues in the Progressive Women’s Caucus to make this a reality in Michigan.”</p> <p><img src="https://mihousedemsblog.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/womens-caucus1-e1422378549246.jpg" alt="" title="" /></p> <![CDATA[House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel responds to Gov. Rick Snyder’s State of the State address ]]> http://www.housedems.com/multimedia/videos/house-democratic-leader-tim-greimel-responds-to-gov-rick-snyder-s-state-of-the-state-address <p>After four years of Republican policies that have left Michigan with a budget deficit and consistently placed Michigan among the states with the worst unemployment rates, it’s time to invest in Michigan and build an economy that works for everyone, said Michigan’s legislative Democrats following Gov. Rick Snyder’s State of the State Address on Tuesday night.</p> <![CDATA[Legislative Dems Say It’s Time to Invest in a Michigan that Works for Everyone]]> http://www.housedems.com/news/article/legislative-dems-say-it-s-time-to-invest-in-a-michigan-that-works-for-everyone <p>LANSING – After four years of Republican policies that have left Michigan with a budget deficit and consistently placed Michigan among the states with the worst unemployment rates, it’s time to invest in Michigan and build an economy that works for everyone, said Michigan’s legislative Democrats following Gov. Rick Snyder’s State of the State Address on Tuesday night.</p> <p>“Four years of prioritizing big corporations over working families has left too many of our neighbors behind,” House Democratic Leader <strong>Tim Greimel</strong> (D-Auburn Hills) said. “While big corporations are enjoying massive tax breaks and corporate giveaways, regular people are just hoping to find a good-paying job, and our state now faces a budget deficit. This plan hasn’t worked, we need to invest in our communities and families so that all of us can share in a better future for Michigan, and the House Democratic Caucus stands ready to work with Governor Snyder on these goals.”</p> <p>“We know we aren’t always going to agree; in fact, there are lots of times we’ll flat out disagree with our colleagues across the aisle,” Senate Minority Leader <strong>Jim Ananich</strong> (D-Flint) said. “But there’s no shortage of challenges facing Michigan families, and I know there’s plenty of common ground between Democrats and Republicans on issues like education, creating jobs and making our economy work for everyone.”</p> <p>While Republicans shifted the tax burden onto the backs of working families and seniors and cost taxpayers billions of dollars in failed tax incentives for corporations, legislative Democrats pointed to recent benefited regular working families. For instance, a road funding plan highlighted by Gov. Snyder tonight was made possible because of Democratic support in the House and Senate, as was a 2013 plan to create the Healthy Michigan Plan that has brought health care access to more than 500,000 Michiganders.</p> <p>“It’s clear that when Democrats and Republicans work together to solve problems facing the state, Michigan families and seniors win,” House Democratic Floor Leader <strong>Sam Singh</strong> (D-East Lansing) said. “The recent budget deficit shows we need to reconsider Republican fiscal priorities and find a balance solution that works for students, families, seniors and businesses.”</p> <p>“The people of Michigan sent us here to Lansing to find solutions, not play games,” said Senate Democratic Floor Leader <strong>Morris W. Hood III</strong> (D-Detroit). “We’ve seen what we can accomplish for Michigan families when we work together. Our caucus will continue to look for opportunities to find real solutions, and we hope our colleagues across the aisle will join us.”</p> <![CDATA[House Democrats Celebrate the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.]]> http://www.housedems.com/multimedia/videos/house-democrats-celebrate-the-life-of-dr-martin-luther-king-jr <p>Fifty-two years ago Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. proclaimed: &#8220;I have a dream.&#8221; Today, we celebrate the incredible life of Dr. King. We remember the success of his life and his message for equality and freedom for all Americans. King&#8217;s non-violent activism for civil rights changed our nation and is recognized across the world. While progress has been made, the full extent of Dr. King&#8217;s dream has yet to be realize. That is incumbent upon each and everyone of us. The Michigan House Democrats will continue to fight for you, your civil rights, equality, and freedom for all the residents of Michigan. We hope you join us in thanking Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for everything he gave in order to make this country and this world a better, more peaceful, more equal place. Let freedom ring.</p> <![CDATA[Republican Policy Turns State Surplus into Deficit, HFA Says]]> http://www.housedems.com/news/article/republican-policy-turns-state-surplus-into-deficit-hfa-says <p>LANSING – Disastrous Republican policies that have cost taxpayers billions of dollars in the form of corporate giveaways are projected to lead to a budget deficit by the end of the current fiscal year. A preliminary analysis released by the nonpartisan House Fiscal Agency Wednesday said the state’s general fund will see a shortfall of $454 million if no changes are made.</p> <p>“It should be obvious to everyone by now that the Republican policy of all but eliminating taxes on corporations not only doesn’t work, but is downright dangerous,” House Democratic Leader <strong>Tim Greimel</strong> (D-Auburn Hills) said. “Big corporations are living rent-free in Michigan, leaving average working families to foot the bill. That’s wrong, and it’s time we restore fairness to all Michiganders.”</p> <p>The House Fiscal analysis was released ahead of the Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference meeting, which was held today. The CREC brings together the House and Senate fiscal agencies, the state administration and other leading economists in the state to forecast how much revenue the state can expect to bring in over the coming two years. It is the first step in the state’s annual budget-making process.</p> <p>After giving Michigan corporations a $1.7 billion tax break in 2011, Republicans then accelerated giveaways to corporations through the MEDC. Since Gov. Rick Snyder took office in 2011, the amount of outstanding corporate tax credits has increased by $1.6 billion, while the value of tax credits expected to be redeemed has skyrocketed by $3.2 billion, according to a report from the nonpartisan Senate Fiscal Agency.</p> <p>“Republicans have allowed the MEDC to become a runaway organization that is devastating the state’s financial health, while not holding it accountable for creating more jobs,” House Democratic Floor Leader <strong>Sam Singh</strong> (D-East Lansing) said. “This policy is irresponsible and harmful to regular, working families, which is why we are committed to restoring fairness and building a Michigan economy that works for everyone.”</p> <![CDATA[Statements from House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel (DΒ­-Auburn Hills) and Rep. Pam Faris (D-Clio) on House Committee Assignments announced today:]]> http://www.housedems.com/news/article/statements-from-house-democratic-leader-tim-greimel-d-auburn-hills-and-rep-pam-faris-d-clio-on-house-committee-assignments-announced-today <p><strong>Statement from House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel (D­-Auburn Hills) on House Committee Assignments announced today:</strong></p> <p>“Yesterday, in his opening day speech, House Speaker Kevin Cotter said that ‘we can continue to work together,not for our political parties, but for the people of Michigan’. It’s disappointing that just one day later, Speaker Cotter chose to set the tone for the current Legislative session by snubbing the House Democrats in our committee recommendations on the House Appropriations and Education committee. Throughout the dialog on committee assignments, Speaker Cotter assured Democratic Leadership that committee recommendations would be honored. For Speaker Cotter and the House Republican Leadership to start the session off with this tone of disrespect and animosity toward Democrats runs counter to his opening day words. The House Democratic Caucus and the entire Democratic Leadership team will continue to be united in our priorities.”</p> <p><strong>From State Representative Pam Faris (D­Clio) on Committee Assignments:</strong></p> <p>“I am a loyal member of the House Democratic Caucus and I will continue to support my Caucus and my Leader. As a result, the designated Democratic point person on the Appropriations committee is whoever Leader Greimel designates regardless of the title decreed by the Speaker.”</p> <![CDATA[Statement from House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills) on the proposed road funding plan:]]> http://www.housedems.com/news/article/statement-from-house-democratic-leader-tim-greimel-d-auburn-hills-on-the-proposed-road-funding-plan <p>“Not only is this the comprehensive road repair plan that House Democrats and people around the state have been demanding, but it will also provide tax relief to Michigan families and take a great step forward toward restoring funding to our schools. Asking voters to approve a tax increase isn’t a step we take lightly, but taxpayers will get better roads and better schools in exchange, and provide income tax relief to offset the cost to working families.</p> <p>“This plan represents a real opportunity to move Michigan forward, and I will work with my caucus to secure the votes necessary to pass this plan and put the proposal before voters.”</p> <![CDATA[House Democrats Fight House Speaker’s Roads Plan That Hurts Schools]]> http://www.housedems.com/news/article/house-democrats-fight-house-speaker-s-roads-plan-that-hurts-schools <p>LANSING — House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills), House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee vice chairwoman Rep. Marilyn Lane (D-Fraser) and Rep. Brandon Dillon (D-Grand Rapids) today said they are ready to vote to fix Michigan roads, but not at the expense of taking money out of schools and local communities to pay for road repairs. House Republicans brought House Speaker Jase Bolger’s plan to the floor, which would repeal the 6 percent sales tax on gasoline while phasing in an increase in a tax on the wholesale price of gasoline. That plan essentially shifts money that now goes to schools and local government to roads.</p> <p>“Legislative Republicans cut funding for our schools in 2011 to pay for a massive tax cut for large corporations, and it is unconscionable that they now want to take another $750 million per year out of our classrooms to fix roads,” said Greimel. “It is irresponsible and short-sighted to try to fix one problem by slashing funding for schools.”</p> <p>The Republican proposal would exempt gasoline and diesel fuel sales from the sales tax while increasing the gasoline tax in order to eventually raise about $1 billion per year to fund road repairs, according to House Republicans, without any replacement source for our schools. Currently, a large portion of that 6 percent sales tax on gasoline is constitutionally dedicated to the state School Aid Fund. The nonpartisan House Fiscal Agency estimates that if HB 4539 — the bill that repeals the sales tax on gasoline — becomes law, schools would lose as much as $750 million per year, and the per-pupil foundation grant would have to be cut accordingly. Bolger claims that, according to economic projections, schools would make up the money they lose by increases in the sales tax revenue as the economy grows.</p> <p>“There are a number of bills and proposals to raise money to fix our roads that don’t take money away from other parts of our budget, and those are the proposals we should be considering,” said Lane. “Our roads and bridges are in dire need of repairs, but taking more money out of ours schools to do this is not a solution. Speaker Bolger is showing a complete lack of leadership and political courage by even suggesting that we fund roads by taking more money away from schools, which will undoubtedly increase class sizes even more and mean less money for books and other resources.”</p> <p>“If this plan passes then we won’t have to worry about school buses doing any damage to our roads because school districts won’t be able to afford to send buses out to pick up our kids,” said Dillon, Democratic vice chairman of the House Appropriations School Aid Subcommittee. “Our schools have already lost money thanks to the 2011 tax changes, and if we defund our schools by another $750 million a year, then school districts throughout the state are going to face hard choices. We have to have good roads in order to keep and attract new business and industry, but we also have to have good schools in order to educate our kids to succeed in the workforce. HB 4539 won’t do that, and that’s why we can’t support it.”</p>