Local freshmen Democratic State Representatives Gretchen Driskell and Adam Zenke reacted to Gov. Rick Snyder's State of the State Address Wednesday. Both expressed support for Snyder's plan to invest in infrastructure, but indicated the Governor came up short on a plan for education.
Here are press releases sent from their offices.
LANSING - State Representative Gretchen Driskell (D-Saline) said today that she wants to prioritize education and looks forward to working with Gov. Rick Snyder on transportation after hearing him address those topics in his State of the State address.
"In my conversations with constituents around western Washtenaw County, the No. 1 concern was the diversion of K-12 education funding away from schools. Instead of hearing about ways to address the constraints of our public schools, all we heard about from the governor was expansion of the Education Achievement Authority, which is an additional privatization effort statewide," Driskell said.
She was disappointed that the governor did not address the previous two years' worth of diversion of funds away from K-12 education and public universities. The representative wants to build Michigan's economy by improving its workforce through education.
"The success of our state is dependent on providing good educational opportunities and quality communities where people will choose to live and work," she said. "Washtenaw County could be a state model for policy direction by the current Legislature. Our low unemployment rate is directly related to excellent schools, higher education institution, and a vast array of great places to recreate. Building these assets requires a change in legislative direction, investing in our schools and communities."
Over the past two years, the Republican-run Legislature has diverted funding away from education, eliminated the Personal Property Tax and continued cuts to revenue sharing, causing financial stress to schools, libraries and local services, such as police officers and firefighters.
"The governor's recommendation to raise the level of funding for transportation has great merit," Driskell said, citing the fact that the Washtenaw County Road Commission (WCRC) funding is so low it is causing a significant drop in service. "I have worked locally for many years on our transportation system, and I am very concerned about the lack of revenue supporting our transportation infrastructure. The ability for WCRC to maintain our roads affects school bus routes and public safety, not to mention the damage incurred to automobiles."
Driskell is optimistic that positive change is within reach, if legislators and the governor are willing to work together. "I look forward to partnering with our governor and the new Legislature on initiatives that will bring good paying jobs to our state, support our families, and protect our environment," she said.
Here are Rep. Adam Zemke's remarks.
"Listening to Governor Snyder's State of the State address this evening, I am hopeful that we seem to agree on some issues. Adequate support for infrastructure and transportation is extremely important to my constituents, so I was pleased to hear the Governor describe that as a central priority for 2013. However, it strikes me that the Governor's emphasis on up-front investment to prevent long-term liabilities and costs applies to infrastructure just as it applies to funding public education. I absolutely believe that education is the number one economic development issue for Michigan, and state government must do everything possible to ensure that our public schools have the support they need, that we are focusing on early childhood development and not forgetting about vocational education, which we have been doing for far too long."