Highlighting successes made in 2016

The achievements we made in 2016 will continue moving Michigan forward on the road to recovery. For the sixth consecutive year, we passed a fiscally responsible budget that improves the efficiency of state government, supports our schools and protects our communities.

We continued to cultivate a positive environment for job creation and long-term growth. As a result, Michigan has added more than 475,000 private sector jobs in six years and our state unemployment rate has been cut by 57 percent.

Education remained a top priority. I am proud that we continued to reduce our long-term debts while increasing support for all levels of education. Roughly 46 cents of every state tax dollar now goes toward public education, and — once again — Michigan is spending more this year on K-12 education than ever in state history.

In 2016, we put more funding into assisting homeless veterans and created a new ombudsman to ensure veterans receive the care they earned. We also added funding to hire 65 new state police troopers; helped increase enjoyment of Michigan’s great outdoors by enhancing access to state parks and boat launches and expanding dark sky preserves for more late night star gazing; and passed a comprehensive energy plan that will help ensure the availability of clean, reliable and cost-efficient power for Michigan families and job providers.

I was proud to sponsor legislation to pave the way for a partnership of Alpena Regional Medical Center and MidMichigan Health — enabling the hospital to remain focused on providing the best care possible to its patients.

As a result of the new partnership, families in northern Michigan will continue to benefit from convenient access to high-quality health care and have an opportunity for more comprehensive services that were not previously available in the area.

This was about keeping care local and improving the long-term future of the hospital and I appreciate everyone involved in this effort, especially the late Rep. Peter Pettalia.

Like many who knew him, I was shocked when I heard about the sudden passing of our friend. Pete was a common sense public servant who loved his state, his friends and his family. He was passionate about life and about northern Michigan. Pete was truly one of the good guys who did his best to improve the lives of the people in his community.

As your senator, I have traveled to every corner of the district, participated in dozens of parades and attended numerous local events, including the Michigan Brown Trout Festival in Alpena. I once again hosted several state and regional officials on a two-day legislative tour traveling 200 miles along Heritage Route 23. Our goal was to highlight Michigan’s sunrise side and engage the community about issues critical to the region. This year, our local stops on the tour included visiting a dairy farm, a veterans office, the 40 Mile Point Lighthouse and several downtown Alpena development projects.

I believe that public service begins with serving the public, and my aim will continue to be to provide the best service possible. One of the main services I offer is helping people with issues with state departments. Please make sure to reach out to me at 1-855-347-8036 or by email at senjstamas@senate.michigan.gov if you need assistance.

I’m excited about continuing a regular series of office hours throughout the district and hearing directly from constituents. Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me to share your thoughts, concerns or support of legislation. Your input helps me do a better job for the residents of the 36th District and the entire state.

It is an honor to serve you in the Senate. We accomplished much in 2016, yet I renew my commitment to you to continue working tirelessly to improve our state for future generations.

Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, represents Michigan’s 36th District.