What are your ideas to support local school districts in the legislature?
Schools in the 101st have, for years, suffered with dwindling numbers of students and therefore the funding that comes with them. We also have greater costs due to bussing so many of our rural students over greater distances, along with high levels of poverty. It is more difficult to recruit the highest quality teachers to rural districts as well. As your representative, and the mother of three elementary students who attend public school in the 101st, I will champion local schools to make sure they have the resources necessary to provide an excellent education for all our students. I will work with local communities as they strive to create the kind of places that attract new educators as well.
What can you do to work with people who have opposing views to solve critical issues our communities face?
This is such an important question given the terrible discord that divides us as people and citizens. It has created so much fear and mistrust that working together can be seen as a flaw. I have found, however, that the best way to get things done is to work with people who have opposing views to mine. We need to enter the conversation realizing that each of us has good intentions for our communities and our state. Operating with that mindset, I will listen with an open mind, looking for the things on which we do agree. Then from that platform find the best way forward with the best interest of the people in the forefront.
What support will be given to ensure Counties, cities and townships are provided the funding that is continually stripped away through Revenue Sharing reductions elimination of personal property tax?
Local counties, townships and cities impact each individual’s life more than any other entity. They provide the services that we rely on every day. For the first time in decades municipalities are beginning to receive the revenues they were promised, and you can see the effects all over the 101 and beyond. It is wrong for the state to collect property taxes and then distribute them back to municipalities in a trickle. When I am in the legislature I will fight for our local communities to receive what we deserve, what the state constitution promises. I will stand in the way of redirecting those revenues away from the local people in Michigan.
What is your stance on Court funding and the need for the State to take over the funding of courts statewide?
The state fully funds the Supreme Court and The Michigan Court of Appeals. It does not, however, fully fund trial courts which puts the courts closest to the people at risk. The Trial Court Funding Commission Final Report identifies these concerns:
“A real or perceived conflict of interest between a judge’s impartiality and the obligation to use the courts to generate revenue; Inadequate funding from all sources due to excessive dependence on local government funding; and Unequal access to justice harming those who are most vulnerable and have the least access to financial resources.”
Then the commission goes on to make specific recommendations such as establishing a stable court funding system, have the state provide for all technology needs, establish uniform assessments and centralized collections, and establish a transition plan for the new court funding model. In order for these reforms to take place the legislature must be on board to create policy and funding for the reforms. I fully support the recommendations of the commission and will when I represent the 101 in the legislature.
How will state address a housing recession as it relates to the disparities Proposal A provides with the inability of municipalities to collect on higher values which are capped but allowed to fall at the same rate?
Proposal A is a good example of a good idea that may need a little tweaking. According to The Michigan Municipal League, “ …For local governments levying at their Headlee maximum authorized millage, rolling back the maximum authorized millage rate reduces the revenue that would have been generated from these increased property values. The increase in the taxable value of property not transferred is capped at the lesser of inflation or five percent. Even though the taxable value of a particular piece of property increases at the rate of inflation, the millage rate for the entire community is “rolled back” as a result of the increase in the total taxable value of the community. The net result—a less than inflationary increase in the actual dollars received from property taxes. Consequently, the 1994 change to the General Property Tax Act has prevented local governments from being able to share the benefits of any substantial market growth in existing property values.”
Municipalities, as I said before, provide all the vital services to the people of Michigan. Reduced revenues limit their ability to provide these services. I think that smart solutions can be found if the legislature works with municipalities and experts in the field. I pledge to strive for those solutions.
What do you see as the biggest challenge in the funding and delivery of care for mental health and substance abuse needs in our community?
I think that funding and the availability of resources is the biggest roadblock for delivery of care for mental health and substance use disorders needs in our community. The state has a plan and policy guidelines, but without the needed resources and trained personnel it cannot be implemented. The pandemic made clear the great need for these resources in our communities. I think this should be a priority.
There are currently legislative efforts that would essentially move the responsibility for the public mental health system to the Health Plans over time. Are you in support of such legislation?
No. Private health plans are administered by private entities that have the bottom line as a factor when dealing with the wellbeing of its clients. In the past privatizing has proven more costly and less efficient. Mental health in Michigan is too important to shift it to insurance corporations who are notorious for putting profit before people.
There is a staffing crisis for qualified staff for both health care and education. What steps would you support to alleviate the staffing crisis?
During the past few years as we navigated the pandemic, educators and health care workers quickly went from being perceived as heroes to villains amid the political diatribe of those who would divide us. The stress of carrying this burden has led many highly skilled individuals to leave the field. It has also created a decrease in young people who choose to become educators or healthcare workers, and who would blame them? In order to attract skilled people in these fields we need to consider that they are human beings. We need to stop attacking them on social media or at school board meetings. We need to reject the divisive rhetoric of those with their own agenda and honor the good work that these people do every day.
What is your position on the safety net for families given rising inflation?
I think that if we want to retain young, working families in Michigan long term we need to address the struggles that are specific to their circumstances. Our young families are facing numerous problems. First time home buyers are not able to afford the homes that are available, there aren't enough early education and after school programs for their children, as well as affordable and reliable day care centers for them to take their children to so they can return to work full time. Formula shelves at the grocery stores remain mostly empty for the parents whose babies rely on that nourishment. Young families also have more of a demand on grocery needs because their households have more people to feed. All of these things can be a hindrance to success in our economy, but when you add them all together it is detrimental.
Where do you stand on the charitable tax credit for donations?
I think that tax credits for charitable donations help people and help the community organizations that serve them. It also provides incentive for people to support the arts, education, and other things that increase the quality of life in Michigan.
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