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Voting with our values

Elections are a big deal. And now that it’s 2020, we’re going to hear about them.

Though I may tire of the pundits and polls, I could never underestimate the importance of elections.

They’re where we choose who can best understand our needs in the White House, in Congress, or in the Legislature. They’re where we decide how our school district should spend its money. They’re where folks are often forced to choose: Am I red or am I blue?

Elections are when we make the decisions.

But not when we realize our values.

We realize our values at our kitchen tables, when we decide how to spend our money. We realize them at hospitals, when we learn that a loved one is ill. We realize them when we see a neighbor in need, a child without a hand to hold or a friend with a problem to solve.

And those values cannot be labeled red or blue.

At the League, we firmly believe that, regardless of who is in power, we should be led first by our values. Ideally, our leaders should mirror what we believe and work toward creating equity and empowering the kids and families who are part of Michigan’s fabric.

So we don’t look at candidates. We look at values. Priorities.

How can we build a stronger state that reflects what we believe in?

We can restore the state Earned Income Tax Credit to 20% of the federal credit, so working families can make ends meet and inject money into their local economies.

We can create a tax system that’s fair by structuring it based on people’s ability to pay. Our current flat income tax relies more on working families than on the wealthy, and it’s time to change it.

We can protect Michigan families from threats like lead and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS, by funding prevention measures like water filters and testing.

We can reverse the decision to jeopardize health coverage. The Legislature’s harmful move to require Healthy Michigan Plan recipients to report work hours will cause Michiganders to lose coverage and will cost the state millions. It’s time to acknowledge that work requirements won’t work — and that they may even be illegal.

We can urge lawmakers to push for a budget that generates revenues to improve funding for education, child care, and other priorities. Our Owner’s Manual for Michigan highlights key programs that — with appropriate funding — could make Michigan so much stronger.

And, this election year, we can urge our elected officials and new candidates to support those actions — to build a state around the values of the people who live in it.

So, as we begin 2020, let’s start to work on building awareness of what we value and how we can prioritize policies that make Michigan a state where everyone thrives.

For more information on those and the Michigan League for Public Policy’s other priorities for 2020, visit mlpp.org.

Gilda Z. Jacobs is president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy.

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