Statement from state Rep. Brian K. Elder (D-Bay City) on his no vote on the omnibus budget

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

“I could not, in good conscience, vote for a bill that did not reflect our values as a state, or the values of my people in Bay County. The budget proposed by the governor was a pleasant surprise to me, as while there were a few areas and changes I would have liked to see made, I could see that overall, there was light at the end of the tunnel for my counties, cities, townships and schools, and the people I serve there. But the budget passed last night is a step backward.

“Unlike previous budget cuts passed by the House, the ones proposed in this budget were not meant to address a funding problem, but a political philosophy — one that leaves our children, seniors, veterans and hardworking families behind. Government operates best when it reflects the values of its citizens, yet it’s obvious this budget is not for or about them.

“The budget voted on last night is a product of term limits. People look at the balance sheet and think about picking winners and losers, because under term limits, many elected officials treat this position as a renter, rather than an owner. Crumbling roads? Not my problem. Schools on life support? Not my problem. Communities less safe because we have fewer cops and firefighters? Not my problem, because we don’t own this home, and we’re moving anyway.

“My people did not send me here to cut Meals on Wheels and senior in-home services, to underfund public education or to privatize mental health services just so that the wealthy can get a tax cut, or to needlessly kill teacher pensions to gain a political victory.

“In the end, a budget is a statement of priorities. It’s a statement of what you believe in and what you will fight for. We should never abandon our people, our infrastructure and our schools. This budget is not yet good enough. Our people deserve better.”