For too long our government and our economy have been ruled by a wealthy elite and Big Corporations whose interests are not yours. It's time government was run for the people. That's why we must implement these policies of Economic Justice.
$15 MINIMUM wage tied to inflation
We must implement a $15 minimum wage tied to inflation over a two year period that is tied directly to a dollar for dollar tax credit for small businesses in the state who may have difficulty paying their workers a living wage. People willing to do a fair day's work deserve a fair day's pay, and we can help all businesses in the state accomplish this by ensuring uniformity across all cities and municipalities as well as providing businesses who need it support in implementing it.
Think of the concept of giving a rich man a dollar, versus giving a working class person a dollar. The rich person saves it while the working class individuals spends it because they have no other choice. This is also called raising the wage floor, which lifts all incomes below, at, or near the new minimum wage.
Many people complain that a fast food industry worker or a janitor doesn't deserve to earn at or near what they earn given their degrees or technical training. This unfairly pits working people against each other: by raising the wages of low skilled jobs you raise the wages of all jobs that are paid more because they could potentially compete with those low wage jobs. For instance, if you are a nurses aid that makes $15 an hour and you could be earning the same by working in the fast food industry, why would you work as a nurses aid? This is the reason that the nurses aid is paid more than the fast food worker right now: to incentivize folks to pursue careers as nurses aids.
Included in this proposal is the removal of the tipped minimum wage that servers earn. There is no reason that an employee of a business in Michigan should have to rely on the charity of the customers they're serving to earn a living.
If you want to stimulate our economy in Michigan we must make sure that the poor and middle class in the state are paid what they deserve.
Support for unions
The right to collectively bargain for a better life is the tool by which our middle class was forged in the United States. By attacking unions and the right of workers to come together and demand better pay and benefits, our middle class has been attacked. As our unions have grown smaller because of these attacks, so has our middle class. We must repeal the harmful Right to Work legislation that hurts workers right to bargain together and defend against attacks on Prevailing Wage which is an attempt to undermine efforts to ensure that the most qualified workers fix our roads and bridges by paying them drastically less than the wages their due.
Beyond defending prevailing wage and repealing right to work laws, we must make it easier for unions to strike. Often, a union's only leverage during tense negotiations for a better contract for its members is a strike. Currently, the Hutchinson Act of 1947 prevents public sector unions from exercising their right to strike. This law, in conjunction with right to work laws contributed directly to the plight of the ATU in the Grand Rapids area. The Hutchinson Act must be repealed for all but police and fire unions. Just because you provide a public service does not mean you surrender your right to a decent living and benefits.
free and open internet
A free and open internet is essential to a strong economy, and with the changes to our internet rules that allow Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Comcast to throttle your internet speeds unless you or the website your accessing pay more, or outright blocking content they don't like; that free and open internet is under attack. Politicians that have orchestrated this change in the rules of the internet did so because of millions of dollars in lobbying by the ISPs themselves. That is why I believe the state must become its own ISP and continue the practice of a free and open internet, with expanded broadband internet access to all parts of the state as a public service. Like a landline or the US Mail, your zip code should not determine your access to an essential public utility. Consumers should have the option of purchasing their internet services from a public utility at a reduced rate that isn't beholden to corporate bonuses and shareholder profits.
Medicare for all
Despite the gains of the Affordable Care Act, the rates on the individual market have been projected to raise 16.7% this year by state oversight officials. Out of pocket healthcare costs have continued to rise year after year, making seeing a doctor or paying for your prescriptions increasingly unaffordable for millions of Michiganders, even people who have insurance. Health care should not be a for profit business, it should be about treating the sick and keeping people healthy.
That is why Michigan must create a Medicare for All system right here, right now to make sure that all Michigan families have access to primary care, preventative care, emergency room access, and prescription drug coverage. The national Medicaid system has controlled costs better than private insurers, lower administrative costs than private plans, is publicly accountable, and so called competition in the private healthcare market has only served to drive up costs.
We will also be freeing up workers to pursue jobs and careers that are rewarding to them and better fit their talents instead of locking them into jobs they don't want because they can't afford to lose their health insurance. We will also be eliminating the costs of providing health insurance for employees for all businesses big and small in Michigan, increasing the competitiveness of Michigan businesses and making sure their workers are healthier and more productive.
iNVESTMENT IN INFRASTRUCTURE
Michigan's crumbling roads and bridges are a tremendous burden on our state's economy; from the cost of auto repair (around $540 per resident a year) to the potential danger to human life due to a bridge collapse (11% of which have been rated structurally deficient), from the 88 dams that have been rated high hazard potential to the $15.87 billion in drinking and wastewater needs of Michiganders (all data from the American Society of Civil Engineers); this decaying infrastructure ensures that our state is unable to transition to a 21st century economy while our residents pay more money out of pocket for car repairs and must live with the constant possibility of infrastructure collapse. This is unacceptable and is the direct result of legislative indifference. One of my priorities once elected will be to push for legislation to repair our infrastructure that is literally falling apart.
For people whose homes are tainted with lead pipes and for municipalities across our state that have lead service lines in their communities our state government must step forward and follow the city of Lansing's leadership in proactively removing all lead from the pipes and service lines that put our children at risk of poisoning.
Food insecurity is a real issue for the people of the district, the county, and the state. According to Feed West Michigan, the number of food insecure people in Kent County alone is 73,200 people, which is 11.8% of the population, of which 14.4% are children. The number of meals required to meet this need is 13,131,400. Part of getting folks away from food insecurity is by raising their wages closer to what they actually deserve but beyond just that the government must step in to help fill in the gap in the interim; and for people who cannot work due to age or disability the government has to ensure these people have real access to quality food and nutrition.
For young people who are food insecure in our K-12 school system, they must be able to receive two quality meals at school with a bag dinner to take home in the evening. The food must be both nutritious and quality. Adults and families should be able to apply for a Bridge Card more easily and if their income improves over time they should be slowly taken off of the program and not have all benefits cease if they reach a certain, still very low, income threshold. It locks people into cycles of poverty by removing assistance right when folks are starting to get back on their feet.