Great Lakes Consensus

 By: Jasper R. Martus, House District 69 
State Representative Jasper R. Martus

Rep. Jasper R. Martus in Committee

Far from the political polarization and petty partisanship of Washington, D.C., leaders in Lansing have delivered major wins for Michigan this year. When Democrats gained power in the Michigan House and Senate while retaining the governorship — creating the first Democratic trifecta in forty years — some observers fretted over the direction Michigan would take. The record wins Democrats have delivered in their first few months of power are providing lessons for the rest of the country on how to govern and which issues to prioritize. Instead of stoking the flames of sectional divisions, we are forging a Great Lakes Consensus that delivers for Michiganders.

         When the COVID-19 pandemic brought our world to a standstill and decades-old supply chains grinded to a halt, the rest of the country discovered something that we in Michigan have always known: we must invest here at home. Not only does investing in America both smooth out supply chain issues and bring down one of the key causes of inflation, it also creates good-paying jobs for our friends and neighbors. We cannot reverse decades of underinvestment, but the status quo is clearly not working.

         With a record influx of funds from the federal government, new leadership in Lansing, and a nationwide climate focused on bringing jobs back, it is not hyperbolic to say that we have been living through history. We put together a coalition of individuals, organizations and stakeholders that may not see eye-to-eye on every issue but are committed to Michigan succeeding. This consensus-building has not been easy but has created wins for business, labor and most importantly: Michigan.

         We started with the largest tax cuts Michigan has seen in decades. Repealing the retirement tax was an issue I heard about almost every day while knocking on doors. The repeal of this unfair tax on seniors puts more money in their pockets and is particularly beneficial for older Michiganders on a fixed income. We also expanded the working families tax credit, also known as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which is a major boost for working families that are struggling. Expanding the EITC is one of the most effective anti-poverty policies a state government can pursue. The repeal of the retirement tax and expansion of the EITC put more money in the hands of seniors and working families.

         Following this, we immediately got to work bringing more businesses to Michigan and bolstering those that already call our state home. Through the Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve (SOAR) program spearheaded by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, we have worked on incentives to bring new companies and technology to Michigan. In the Michigan Legislature, we have approved incentives geared toward site readiness and worker training to persuade companies considering setting up shop in other states to invest here in Michigan. The industries we are working with are focused on major advancements in electric vehicles and the cutting edge of manufacturing.

         Building factories is great, but more important than new warehouses and workshops are the people that will work there. We want to bring businesses to Michigan, but they have to understand that they will have to take care of their workers. Despite Michigan’s rich labor history, unions have been under attack for decades. Their fiercest critics have previously racked up major wins in the state Legislature. We are now rolling back anti-labor laws that have been on the books for far too long. We repealed the so-called “right-to-work”’ laws, restored prevailing wage across the board, and are also currently rolling out a labor package that empowers workers. People considering moving to Michigan should know that we are welcoming to all, so we also expanded the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to protect members of the LGBTQ+ community. We want workers to know that they are protected in the workplace and their families can thrive and feel secure here in Michigan.

         The first one hundred days of the 102nd Michigan Legislature are a blueprint for the rest of the nation. We delivered relief to the most vulnerable, are bringing businesses to our state and are protecting the rights of Michiganders. These reforms have been broadly popular, largely bipartisan and laser-focused on the needs of working families. That is the Great Lakes Consensus. We still have so much work to do and countless other issues to address, but Michigan Democrats have created a coalition of diverse voices united in creating opportunity here in Michigan. As our country seeks to recover from the devastating impacts of the pandemic and figures in D.C. bicker over less important issues, Michigan Democrats are making history, and we are only getting started. Promises made are promises kept.