With life slowly returning to normal, there’s a lot to be grateful for, but there is also still a lot of work to do. I wanted to give you a quick update on what we’ve been working on in Lansing and where we’re going next.
Finding a permanent solution to Downriver’s train problems
Over the last two weeks, we took a huge step toward solving our train problem: House Bills 4523 and 4524, our bipartisan legislation that would help build bridges and underpasses at the most problematic rail crossings statewide, received a hearing and successfully passed the House Transportation Committee. You can see my testimony on the bills here.
After years of effort and persistence on this issue, it seems that Lansing is finally taking notice, and while there is still a lot of work to do to get them passed, I’m proud of what we’ve been able to achieve together.
Attracting and keeping the best teachers in Michigan
We know Michigan is facing a critical teacher shortage that has only been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic— that’s why I was proud to lead the “Respecting Educators” package we introduced recently, comprehensive legislation that will help us keep great educators in the classroom while attracting more people into the field through improvements in benefits, training and more.
With the added stresses of the pandemic coupled with stagnating wages and decreasing benefits, we’ve been seeing teachers leave the profession at alarming rates, and we need to take immediate and decisive action for the future of our state.
There was a time when Michigan was the envy of the world in terms of both education and teacher benefits, and we need to create tangible incentives to bring back that status. When we do that, we can effectively solve our teacher shortage by attracting and retaining high-quality educators for our kids, and we can significantly improve student outcomes in the process.
Taken together, our Respecting Educators program would improve benefits, training, and more, and my bill, House Bill 5099, would set up a program of student loan forgiveness for our hardworking educators as long as they remain actively teaching in the classroom.
You can watch our press conference on the topic here.
Crafting a responsible budget that works for you
Last week, the House passed a historic, bipartisan school budget that closes the funding gap between school districts and expands preschool dramatically, something I’ve been advocating for since I first took office. The Senate also approved this plan, meaning that our students, teachers and districts can get the relief and resources they need.
We also are continuing deliberations on a general budget that will help our state recover and rebuild. The budget process is not over yet, but we will continue working through the summer until we reach a deal that works for everyone, and I can promise I’ll be fighting for Downriver every step of the way.
If you have any questions about the topics covered above or anything else we can do to answer your questions or help you and your family, please don’t hesitate to reach out.