You can have neither Environmental nor Economic Justice without Social Justice. They are co-equal parts of a three legged stool that the progress of our society rests on.
Criminal justice reform
The war on drugs has failed, and while it's failing it has disproportionately targeted racial minorities and the African American community in particular through unjust laws such as harsher penalties for crack versus powdered cocaine. That is why we must fully legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana as well as treat our addiction crisis as the medical issue it is and not attempt to criminalize sick folks. We can save millions in incarceration costs and lower recidivism by sending addicts to treatment and not prison.
We need to develop alternatives to jail and prison for those who are convicted of nonviolent offenses that allow offenders to maintain ties to their community and use best practices to rehabilitate individuals back into society as productive members instead of wasting tax dollars locking up people who are not a danger to society and limiting their ability to get help.
We must demilitarize our police departments and return them to being police and not occupying armies in communities across our state. Our police do not need tanks and machine guns and military grade equipment to patrol our streets. Michigan is not Afghanistan and we do a disservice to the men and women who serve in law enforcement in our state by allowing them to be hijacked by a far right agenda that corrupts their mission to serve their communities and instead turns them into a conquering army with a perspective at odds with the civilians they police.
Michigan must end its use of for profit prisons which penalize the state financially for not filling it's beds with Michigan residents who would be better served with alternatives to incarceration. It makes no sense to operate these prisons which are costlier than state run facilities and have higher number of lawsuits which drain state coffers because of shoddy management practices on the part of the corporations.
We must ban the box. People who have paid their debt to society and served their time shouldn't have to carry the albatross around their neck of a felony conviction. By preventing employers from asking whether an applicant has been convicted of a felony you allow the individual to rejoin society completely and reintegrate while becoming a contributing member of society again.
We must do better at protecting the civil rights of racial and ethnic minorities in Michigan. This includes ensuring that citizen run police oversight boards have actual teeth to investigate and discipline officers found violating the law and the policies of their departments. Real penalties must also be written into the law that create an active disincentive for officers when deciding whether or not to violate the constitutional rights of citizens. Current civil rights protections must also be actively enforced; it does no good to have a protected group of people when that protection is never delivered.
Members of our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community in Michigan aren't even granted the smallest of civil rights protections; they can be fired from their jobs, denied housing, and turned away by health care providers solely based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The LGBTQ community must have the same rights as every other Michigander to pursue their American dream free from harassment and discrimination. That is why we must amend the Elliot Larson Civil Rights act to include gender identity and sexual orientation.
Women must be paid the same as men for doing the same work as men, but in Michigan our wage gap is much higher than the national average at 74 cents for every dollar a man earns. That was a difference of $13,000 for a full time worker in Michigan in 2015. This is unacceptable. One key step in combating this is mandating open salary and wage information from employers and preventing employees from being fired for discussing wages, salary, and compensation.
A woman has the right to decide what to do with her body. The government should not interfere between a woman and her doctor. In Michigan, 40% of women live in counties with no abortion clinic. Michigan is ranked as one of the most restrictive states in the United States for women's access to reproductive rights. I am firmly pro-choice and we must restore a woman's right to choose in our state.
We must reinvest in our schools in our K-12 schools by reducing the inequality connected to per pupil funding. Poorer districts with greater student burdens are given the same level of state funds as wealthier districts with fewer such burdens. Those wealthier districts are able to supplement state aid with local tax levies that poorer districts just can't afford. Instead, districts who face greater obligations to students like English language courses and special education programs as well as less developed tax bases should receive greater state aid. From each according to their ability, to each according to their need. We must create a more equitable school funding system so that poorer districts and communities are not left behind.
Overall, we must increase the state funding to the school districts that need it most and stop the subsidizing wealthy school districts at the expense of rural and urban schools.
A college or trade education has historically been a pathway to the middle class. As tuition rates have soared, college and trade education has increasingly crept out of reach of the poor and middle class of Michigan. That is why we must make college and trade education free to all Michigan residents. This not only means that students don't have to take on the massive debt burdens that cripple their futures and hobble their productivity by limiting their career or vocational potential by prioritizing paying back their loans in place of buying a home, car, or participating fully in our economy; but it will increase access to college and vocational training to all Michiganders regardless of income or wealth. The promise of a better life cannot be limited to the generation that came before us, we need to reinvest in the American Dream right here in Michigan.