Citizens Air Their Concerns at Ann Arbor Listening Tour Stop

Lawmaker hears residents talk about impact of new policies
Tuesday, February 26, 2013

ANN ARBOR — State Representative Gretchen Driskell (D-Saline) was in her district Monday to listen to how middle-class families have been impacted by Republican tax increases and education cuts in Michigan. The event, held at Washtenaw ISD in Ann Arbor, is one of the House Democrats’ Listening Tour stops, in a series across the state. Joining Driskell at the event were state Reps. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor), David Rutledge (D-Ypsilanti) and Adam Zemke (D-Ann Arbor).

“As representatives, we were sent to Lansing to advocate for our constituents: the hard-working men and women of Michigan,” Driskell said. “We share the priorities of middle-class families, and we will continue to work for them.”

Gov. Rick Snyder claimed Michigan is on the right track when he gave his State of the State address. House Republicans also offered an “Action Plan” that tries to convince citizens of their intention to work for the people. However, said Rutledge, “The average Michigander is still struggling. The policies of the last two years just aren’t helping. We need to focus on legislation that benefits everyone, not special interests and corporations.”

In response, House Democrats announced they would be conducting town hall-style events where average working Michiganders could express how two years of misguided policies have hurt them. Residents can also go to www.RealStateOfOurState.com for information and to speak out. Taxes on seniors and families have increased, school funding has seen a massive disinvestment, unemployment remains stubbornly high and women are being denied access to legal health care.

“Republicans are determined to push their agenda, even if it means larger class sizes, higher taxes on families and preventing women from making their own health care choices,” Irwin said. “I’ve had enough, many of you have had enough, and my fellow Democrats and I will fight to roll back these policies.”

For the last two years, Gov. Rick Snyder and legislative Republicans have ignored the will of Michiganders. In the last legislative session, the majority enacted laws that are out of touch with what middle-class families want. Even after the 2012 election, when voters soundly rejected those policies, more divisive and harmful bills were passed during the lame duck session: personal property tax reform, which shifts the tax burden from corporations to local communities; a reprise of the emergency financial manager law, which voters repealed at the polls; and a so-called “right-to-work” package, which attacks collective bargaining rights and will lower wages across the state. When people came to Lansing to express their outrage, they were forcibly removed from the Capitol and shut out of the legislative process.

“If Michigan is truly going to be the great state that the governor says it’s on the path to becoming, we have to respect democracy and let all voices be heard,” Zemke said. “That’s the only way that we can create policies that truly benefit people and make our state a great place to live and work.”