LANSING – State Representative Scott Dianda (D-Calumet), in response to Gov. Rick Snyder’s State of the State Address, said that the Legislature needs to focus on making Michigan’s economy work for everyone. Michigan’s economy currently lags behind the rest of the nation because of higher taxes on seniors and working families. With a looming budget deficit, it is time to adjust the billions of dollars in massive tax breaks and incentives for big corporations and put that money back into the pockets of hard working people who drive the economy.

“The Upper Peninsula families and businesses that I represent have unique struggles because our winters are colder and longer, our communities can be farther apart from each other, and our students often have to travel farther to school every day. Tax increases with lost tax credits and deductions can mean a significant loss of income for these families and that can make life difficult,” said Dianda. “At the same time, we are seeing the economy grow in the U. P. in both the traditional and new innovative business sense. We need to support this growth by ensuring that families have money to spend at these businesses instead of losing more of their income to taxes.”

Snyder expressed his support for the proposal to raise money for road improvements, which comes in the form of a sales tax increase that must be approved by voters on the ballot in May. Dianda did not support legislation that will put a road funding ballot proposal before voters in May.

“I believe that it’s the job of legislators to find an appropriate road funding and repair solution instead of relying on voters to make that tough decision,” said Dianda. “I knew when I first came to Lansing that we would have to address the problems with our roads and bridges, and that it would likely mean finding new funding. I think it was wrong to push that funding decision to voters. I will continue to look at road funding options while also working with the Michigan Department of Transportation to reduce costs and find more savings before the May ballot vote.”

Dianda reiterated House Democrats’ priorities of working for everyday people on several issues. Education funding is still down after it was significantly cut in 2011, and legislation to better regulate for-profit charter schools was left to die. Legislative Republicans listened to special interest demands concerning women’s health care, making it harder for Michigan’s women to access the health services they need. More can still be done to improve the quality of life for U.P. residents and ensure that basic needs for families and businesses, such as utility and energy services, are affordable.

Rather than continuing the failed approach of massive handouts to wealthy corporations, House Democrats want to increase support for entrepreneurs and the small businesses that truly drive our economy. Dianda explained that the Keweenaw Peninsula is home to the MTEC SmartZone that offers help with opportunities surrounding corporate, university and private research, as well as offering a small business incubator to help start-up companies. Traditional U.P. industries are also growing with, for example, the Highland Copper Company focusing on exploring and developing copper projects in the U.P.

Dianda’s guests for the governor’s speech were David Fennell, executive chairman of Highland Copper Company, Inc., and Marilyn Clark, CEO of the MTEC SmartZone.

“I want to focus on supporting these and other businesses in the U.P. that are growing and will create new jobs for the families of House District 110,” said Dianda. “I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will join me as we look at communities across the state to see what we can do to help our local businesses create more jobs and relieve the tax burden on families and seniors so they can support their local businesses.”