You can help write the next chapter in Michigan’s history

As an avid history enthusiast, I think a lot about the source when it comes to reading about the past. Who decides what the narrative is? Who decides which parts to highlight, which parts to omit? We know it varies greatly from version to version and we know those versions tell vastly different stories about how people survived challenging and tumultuous times.

Of course, right now we’re living through such times, and I’m trying to focus more on who will write our future. And while our elected officials in Lansing are still ultimately charged with shaping our state, we need to make sure that they are incorporating the personal stories and needs of all Michiganders.

When we consider what Michigan’s story will be as we emerge from the pandemic, I propose that we share the narrative. I propose that we write the next chapter together.

And we could have plenty to add to that chapter in 2022. We at the Michigan League for Public Policy are already thinking about how we can plan for the future with you.

There is momentum around policies that put people first and expand equity and economic opportunity for all. In the last year, we’ve seen major bipartisan improvements to stop the criminalization of poverty and to help folks who’ve been involved in the criminal justice system. We’ve also seen historic investments in the state’s budget for child care, maternal and infant health, healthcare, and healthy foods.

And just this month we’ve seen some bright spots. Senate Bill 417 has been up for discussion–a bill that would boost Michigan’s Earned Income Tax Credit, benefiting over 738,000 families, including 2,290 families in Alpena County, 940 families in Presque Isle County, 840 families in Montmorency County and 750 families in Alcona County. As a percentage of the population, rural residents are more likely to benefit from a larger EITC, and this bill would be a major boost to their incomes.

But the status quo remains, as some leaders have created or maintained barriers that keep rural Michiganders, people of color, women and many families from thriving. It’s time to dismantle the system that keeps people from moving forward. It’s time to write a new chapter where prosperity is within reach for every family.

Our state and our nation are on a rocky path out of a crisis that affects every Michigander, especially those living in rural communities and communities of color. In Michigan’s next chapter, we can begin investing in urgent community needs like safe water, affordable housing, equitable education, fair wages and cash in hand to people struggling to make ends meet.

What can we expect in Michigan’s next chapter? For starters…

∫ Over 1.24 million workers earning minimum wage would earn enough money to help lift them further out of poverty and live with dignity;

∫ Over 738,000 families would benefit from an increased Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit;

∫ Over 259 high-poverty school districts would benefit from equitable school funding, including dozens in Northern Michigan;

∫ And so much more…

Michigan’s next chapter is a chance for all of us to build a bolder, more just and more equitable state. But it cannot happen without you. Please continue to use your voice. As the new year and the next round of state budget talks begin in January, reach out to your policymakers and let them know what folks in your community need most. I look forward to working on this next chapter with you and making sure Northern Michigan continues to be on the radar of our state’s leaders.

Monique Stanton is president & CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy.


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