Jobs and the Economy
Michigan is the strongest, most driven workforce in the country. We always have been and I believe that we always will be. But it’s no secret that the recent past was extremely hard on our middle class families. Unfortunately hundreds of thousands of jobs were lost and while many people are back to work today, stagnant wages still plague Michigan’s economy. Skyrocketing costs, from health care to gas, groceries and childcare costs are threatening many families’ basic survival. Yet we do have reason to be hopeful for the future.
We have added more than 200,000 jobs since 2010. Metro Detroit’s unemployment rate continues to drop and Michigan’s unemployment rate as a whole has fallen to levels that we haven’t seen in years. Though they still face challenges, “The Big Three” have resurged and nationally, we have seen private-sector job growth for several years.
We cannot, however, be satisfied with this progress. There is much more work to do. We must continue working to revitalize Michigan’s economy, accelerate its growth and put people to work in good-paying jobs. Michigan must become an innovative leader in emerging fields like alternative energy, while also focusing on our strengths in areas like manufacturing and agriculture. We must also focus on strengthening our economy from the inside out by making it easier for our small businesses to create jobs for our neighbors and support our local economies. And although we must be focused on moving our economy forward, we can’t leave our middle class workers behind. As your Congresswoman I will work to make sure Michigan can provide our workers with the job training and workforce development that they need to learn new skills and compete for good-paying jobs. Doing so will help make ensure that Michigan businesses can secure all of the talent that they require, right here at home.
Today we live in a truly global society where the United States is competing with the rest of the world. The key to coming out on top is building a foundation through the education of our young people. It starts with investing in early education and our elementary schools and continues through college and other forms of secondary education. All of our public schools must have the resources to provide children with a high-quality education and college must be more affordable for all families, not just a privileged few.
Unfortunately in Michigan, that has not been the case in recent years. As a member of the House Appropriations committee when I served in the state legislature, I fought tooth and nail against the unrelenting republican-led cutting of school funding that has put our children’s future at risk. This is unacceptable. I will always fight for our families and to make sure that all public schools in the 13th District get the resources that they need to provide a world-class education to our children. I will also work to ensure that more students are able to receive the financial aid needed to attend Michigan’s universities, community colleges and skilled trade programs, without being overburdened by debt when they graduate.
Although we have made great strides in recent years – including the signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act – we must continue fighting to make sure our Michigan mothers, sisters and daughters receive the same opportunities as our fathers, brothers and sons. Unfortunately in this decades-long fight we have barely budged the pay gap and it continues to cost women tens of thousands of dollars each year. The Michigan legislature has the power to pass laws that ensure pay equity in our state.
In Michigan, women are paid just 74 cents for every $1 men make – a 26-cent pay gap. That is one of the worst pay gaps in the country. The national average is 77 cents and it’s even worse for women of color. In general, a woman would have to work an extra four months to earn what a man doing similar work would earn in all of 2014. That is unacceptable.
This is not only a women’s issue but it is truly a family matter. Women who work hard every day to provide for their families deserve equal treatment in the workforce and equal pay for equal work. Closing the pay gap would make a world of difference to a mother and her family when trying to put food on the table and pay the rent or mortgage. Addressing the pay gap is the key to strengthening and empowering women and their families across the state. As your Congresswoman I will work to pass legislation that creates pay equity for all of the women of our nation.
Health Care and Women’s Health
I believe that healthcare is a human right. As such, Access to affordable, quality health care for all Michiganders is of the utmost importance to me. We must strengthen consumer protections and keep health care costs low, so that more families can purchase coverage and small businesses can offer coverage to their employees. We must protect and strengthen Medicare and ensure Michigan gets its fair share of resources so that families can access health services such as annual wellness visits, mammograms and screenings that help prevent and treat serious conditions. President Obama’s Affordable Care Act set us on the path to achieve these goals and we must continue working to make them a reality.
We must also fight any attempt to undermine women’s health. It is unacceptable for any group to discriminate against our mothers, daughters, sisters, and neighbors by limiting their ability to receive important preventative services such as birth control. Being a woman is not a pre-existing condition.
Social Safety Net
Lately, here in Michigan and in the nation’s Capital, it seems there are far too many politicians who are catering to rich and powerful special interest groups while going out of their way to tear apart the social safety net for families who need it most. In my mind, they need to be reminded that, “you are your brother’s keeper,” and these crucial services are there to help Michigan families make ends meet, put food on the table, or keep the heat or electricity on during tough times until they can get back on their feet.
We simply will not be able to turn our economy around if we abandon our middle class and their families. As your Congresswoman I will fight to:
- Raise the national minimum wage
- Protect unemployment benefits for displaced workers. We shouldn’t make it harder for them to support their families and make ends meet while they look for work in this tough economy.
- Strengthen job-training programs that teach residents new and crucial skills that will help them overcome hurdles associated with finding a new job or starting a new career.
- Protect important programs that help women and children keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. One of the fastest growing segments of the nation’s homeless population is children.
To ensure our youngest residents can build a solid foundation for a successful future, I will oppose cuts to all early childhood learning programs. Quality early learning programs are crucial to starting our kids off on the right foot in the classroom. Investing and expanding these programs will prepare our children for success and benefit us all by creating a stronger future for Michigan.
We will forever be indebted to the men and women who serve in our military. They make unimaginable sacrifices to protect us, our way of life, and defend our freedom. They have made the United States the great country that it is today. We must do everything that we can to support our men and women of uniform, for their selfless sacrifice has made the world a better place.
In addition to ensuring that veterans and their families have access to resources like quality health care and a good education when they come home, I will support vital programs that help our veterans find employment when they complete their service. Far too many of our service members are homeless or struggling to make ends meet when they come home. More than one million veterans are unemployed today. Our veterans deserve better. I will work to strengthen Michigan’s job training programs so that our veterans can find quality job opportunities, as well as encourage businesses to hire unemployed and disabled veterans.
Natural Resources and Environmental Justice
Michigan’s natural resources are a large part of what makes living in the Great Lake State so special. They are a vital to our economy and our way of life. That’s why we must do all we can to protect our natural resources and ensure that Michigan’s land, air and water can be enjoyed by future generations. This includes finding solutions to environmental issues that are putting the health and safety of our families at risk.
You can find some of Michigan’s most polluted ZIP codes in parts of Detroit, most likely due to the heavy industry in the area. As a result, many in Wayne County are forced to breathe dirty air every time they set foot outside. This is unacceptable. Our children deserve better than to grow up in a neighborhood where their health is continually put at risk. I support stronger federal regulations and air quality standards that will hold businesses accountable and ensure that dangerous toxins are not needlessly polluting our neighborhoods.
I also support:
- Fighting President Trump’s efforts to weaken the EPA
- Protecting Michigan’s Great Lakes and inland waters from Asian Carp and other invasive species that could do serious harm to our precious ecosystem and hurt our economy.
- Ensuring cap and trade programs are working to the best of their ability in order to clear our skies and to protect the air we breathe.
- Working with our auto manufacturers to improve the fuel economy of passenger vehicles in a reasonable manner. In addition to reducing pollution and improving our air quality, it will save families money at the pump, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and ultimately strengthen our national security.
Reducing the Deficit
For years during the recent economic downturn, families like mine across Wayne County had to sit down at the dinner table, endure difficult conversations and undoubtedly make tough sacrifices to make ends meet. It is time that our country did the same. Instead of responsible spending, we see a growing government that wastes taxpayer dollars. Instead of shared sacrifice as a nation, we see proposals that continually favor the wealthy at the expense of middle class families. We need an efficient government that eliminates excessive tax subsidies for the wealthy and uses taxpayer dollars wisely on quality services. We must also set our nation on a reasonable path to deficit reduction so that we can begin to solve this problem instead of passing a monumental task on to the next generation.
We cannot balance the budget on the backs of our seniors, children, the middle class and poor . Shared sacrifice is not attacking Medicare and Social Security in order to protect tax breaks for big corporations. Responsible deficit reduction should not include slashing jobs, financial aid that helps more students afford college, or programs that support women, infants and children in order to fund additional tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires.
Reducing the deficit must begin with creating jobs, reducing wasteful tax giveaways to big companies and special interests, and eliminating ineffective government programs – not passing costs on to our middle-class families.
Keep Our Neighborhoods Whole
As a lifelong resident of Detroit, it pains me to see the toll that home foreclosures have taken on our city and county. From Rosedale Park, Dearborn Heights, Redford to Inkster- no neighborhood in this district has been safe from the threat of foreclosure. In fact, in some areas entire blocks have been purchased by foreign investors who are only concerned with lining their own pockets-not stable communities. Remember, behind every foreclosure is a family. Businesses, large and small, are affected, and new businesses are driven away. Property values decline and the safety of entire neighborhoods are put at risk. Our families deserve healthy, livable communities where they can thrive.
As your Congresswoman I will continue to stand up for our families and protect them from the threat of losing their home. I will continue working to ensure that banks and unscrupulous lenders do not take advantage of residents trying to achieve the American dream.
As State Representative I introduced and passed laws to:
- Create a “first-of-its-kind” state law that requires mortgage companies to sit down with homeowners to modify home loans before foreclosing. This gave homeowners new protections and helped keep neighborhoods strong.
- Keep families who are in extreme poverty from losing their homes because of delinquent property taxes and allow them to create a reasonable payment plan.
- Protect renters by giving them the right to receive notice when the home that they are living in is in foreclosure.
I will continue the fight to protect our neighborhoods whole in Congress!