Welcome to my e-newsletter! I’m honored and humbled to serve as our community’s voice at the Capitol in Lansing. As we continue into the term, rest assured that the challenges families in our community and state are facing are at the top of my legislative priorities.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office by phone at (517) 373-0152 or email at AmosONeal@house.mi.gov if we can help.
State Representative, 95th House District
In this issue:
Upcoming Community Conversation
Please join us on March 17 at 6 p.m. on Facebook Live. I will give a brief legislative update. Then, we will have a conversation about COVID-19 in our community and how we are moving forward together.
Our special guests helping discuss this crucial issue are Chris Harrington from the Saginaw County Health Dept., Dr. Delicia Pruitt from the Saginaw County Health Dept., Dr. Brenda Coughlin from the Great Lakes Bay Health Centers and Kevin Birchmeier from Covenant HealthCare.
We hope to save some time for a Q&A, so come with questions for our guests. You can join us on Facebook Live by clicking here or searching @StateRepAmosONeal.
I hope to see you there!
Treasury Business Grant
Are you a small business owner affected by the pandemic? The Michigan Department of Treasury is offering more than $400 million in grant money to eligible businesses affected by COVID starting on March 1. Learn more here: https://bit.ly/3LUXaZu. Michigan businesses that suffered through the pandemic can apply for financial relief. There is also still one more informational webinar coming up on March 7 to learn more about this grant and get your questions and concerns answered before applying.
I was proud to see Gov. Whitmer providing this additional $400 million in relief for our small businesses that suffered through the COVID pandemic. If you know any small businesses in our community, help spread the word and learn more about this grant opportunity.
HB 5813 – Putting Workers First Labor Package
My colleagues and I held a press conference in Lansing to stand with our Michigan unions as we introduced a labor bill package to restore organizing, collective bargaining and workers’ rights. Every day, our workforce fights for fair treatment, and this package will help protect and empower them to secure their economic future.
My bill in the 34-bill package, House Bill 5813, will amend the Public Employee Relations Act to require every public sector employee’s introductory packet to contain information about their rights to organize, form, join or assist a labor organization and bargain collectively through representatives of their free choice. I was proud to stand with labor and help Michigan succeed.
HB 5054 – Pension Grants
This week, we voted on House Bill 5054, which appropriates a total of $1.5 billion from the General Fund to provide support to local government retirement systems and the State Police Retirement System. It creates a grant program to help local units of government shore up their pension funds. On its own, that might be a worthy investment, but we don’t make decisions in a vacuum; we need to look at the bigger picture.
Revenue sharing is an important tool for local cities and townships to remain financially stable. A certain percentage of taxes collected by the state of Michigan is given back to local municipalities. When revenue sharing is misused or underfunded, it can cause significant damage to a community’s finances.
We can’t forget that municipal pension systems are struggling in no small part because of underinvestment in municipal revenue sharing over the last decade of Republican governance. The conversation about how to help local government pension systems should be part of a conversation that includes increased revenue sharing. However, the current legislation doesn’t address the core problem, namely the hit municipal revenue sharing took during the last administration.
SB 768 Tax Cuts
This week, the House also passed Senate Bill 768 to amend the Income Tax Act. This bill is an irresponsible measure that will benefit only the wealthiest Michiganders at the expense of everyone else. The tax cut proposed in the bill would give the bottom 20% of income earners a $12 cut; those in the middle 20% would get a $92 cut; and the top 1% would get a $4,900 cut.
Everyone needs to be paying their fair share, and this bill in no way accomplishes that. Cutting taxes on that scale will require billions of dollars in budget cuts. Vital services like public safety, infrastructure funding and education could be cut. What’s more, the budget surplus that Republicans are saying can pay for these tax cuts is largely in the form of federal money with strings attached. Deep tax cuts will trigger the federal government to take back up to $3 billion in pandemic relief that belongs to all Michiganders. This is $3 billion that could be used for transformational investments and change in Michigan. Instead, it will be returned to Washington, D.C., due to this reckless legislation.
Combined with the other measures in the bill, if this would become law, we’d be facing a $9 billion budget hole. In her budget proposal, Gov. Whitmer called for responsibly phasing out the punitive retirement tax that burdens our seniors. That tax was created by Republicans in 2011 to pay for a multibillion-dollar tax cut to corporations. A decade of needless burden for elderly people living on a fixed income is a decade too long. By phasing out the Republican retirement tax, we can give half a million households an annual savings of about $1,000.
Gov. Whitmer also proposed expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, which lifts working families out of poverty. That tax relief will go right back into the local economy in the form of buying groceries, school supplies and other necessities. These policies will put Michigan’s budget surplus toward those who need help the most. Instead, the Republican plan gives the biggest tax breaks to the wealthiest — those who need it the least.