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"I've spent over 20 years fighting to protect America and our freedoms. I've fought in war, maintained the peace, and swore to protect and defend the constitution. Upon returning home, I saw that many of the freedoms that I fought to protect are being destroyed in the political process.  Whether it is Republican or Democrat, I see freedom slowly dwindling away.

 

Recently, Governor Snyder signed Senate Bill 571 which states "a public body, or a person acting for a public body, shall not, during the period 60 days before an election in which a local ballot question appears on a ballot, use public funds or resources for a communication by means of radio, television, mass mailing, or prerecorded telephone message if that communication references a local ballot question and is targeted to the relevant electorate where the local ballot question appears on the ballot."

 

I understand that no Michigander wants his or her tax money used in a propaganda campaign, but this legislation limits effective communication between our local government and school officials and the people.  The greatest threat to a free society is misinformation, and the internet is filled with voices that distort the truth.  Today, the greatest threat to America is not ISIS or global warming it is misinformation used to divide our country.

 

I am running for State Representative for my friends, family, and my community to restore our freedoms, rebuild our infrastructure, and protect Michiganders from an unresponsive bureaucracy.  I'm running to empower Michigan and the residents of the 66th District.  I ask for your vote.

 LIST OF ISSUES

FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY

The #1 responsibility of a legislator is to maintain a fiscally sound government.  Legislators must be good stewards of taxpayer money, which means setting priorities and finding a balance between long-term and short-term requirements.  


Under current Republican leadership, the state has effectively met short-term financial goals, however, Michigan is in a fragile fiscal state as long-term financial obligations will challenge the state legislature's ability to maintain a balanced budget over the next 5-years.  The pending Detroit Public School's bailout, the Flint water crisis, rising health care costs as the affordable care act is fully implemented, and a potential economic recession all threaten Michigan's ability to maintain a balanced budget.   In a worst case scenario, Michigan could face a $3 to $5 billion dollar shortfall over the next 3-years.  These costs could increase the taxes of the residents of the 66th District (Van Buren County, Alamo and Cooper Townships, and the City of Parchment).

 

Over 64.8 % of taxpayer revenue goes toward two governmental functions.  That number could grow as high as 75% of Michigan's budget over the next 5-years.  If certain measures aren't implemented to control education and health care costs, Michigan could again return to excessive deficits.  Even worse, future economic growth could be disrupted if Michigan's tax base disappears from excessive taxation.   I'm running to ensure Michigan remains fiscally responsible. 

 

The graphic below is from the State of Michigan's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) located at http://www.michigan.gov/documents/budget/CAFR_FY_2015_510625_7.pdf

This report shows the increasing amount of funding on Education (30%) and Health Services (34.8 %).

INFRASTRUCTURE RESTORATION

To be competitive in today's global economy, Michigan must compete against cheap labor from around the world.  In today's market an educated labor force is highly mobile, but what is not is infrastructure.  Company's like Google and Amazon depend on reliable power distribution, high speed communication networks, and cheap transportation to provide their services.  

 

While I was in India, I learned how Michigan can gain a strategic advantage over $5 a day workers.  Through significant investments in Infrastructure restoration and innovation, Michigan can lead in residential quality of life and corporate cost effectiveness, and the 66th District can greatly benefit from infrastructure investments along the I-94 corridor.

 

My promise to the voters of Michigan's 66th District is that I'll work with the Governor to develop a 10-year infrastructure restoration plan that is cost effective, practical, safe, and works for the majority of Michigan residents.  This plan will focus on transportation (air, land, and water), energy (distribution and development), and communications (redundant, high speed capacity).

 

Like many Michiganders, I'm frustrated with Michigan roads.  In fact, I've seen smaller potholes in Iraq from improvised explosive devices than some of the potholes in Michigan.  Underfunding and our funding mechanisms have partially contributed to our poor road conditions.  However, there are other issues--poor monitoring systems, bad construction priorities, and faulty engineering—that will continue to consume taxpayer resources with marginal road improvement.  I believe Michigan needs to invest in technologies to build the 100-year road, a monitoring system that tracks road degradation over time, and new construction standards that improves durability and longevity. 

 

EDUCATIONAL REFORM

Detroit Public Schools is facing bankruptcy, which would leave Michigan taxpayers with approximately $1.5 billion dollars’ worth of debt.  Recent news reports have highlighted both the poor physical conditions of Detroit Public Schools as well as the teachers' sick-out.  We need a solution that helps Detroit while not overly burdening the remaining school districts in Michigan.  We also need to ask the hard questions about how dollars are being prioritized.  Specifically, in 2009 Detroit Public Schools passed a half a billion dollar bond (proposal S) for school infrastructure development and renovation, yet problems persist today with many schools having code violations, including multiple instances of rodents, mold, damaged roofs and broken glass.  Like many Michiganders, we need to ensure that our tax dollars are spent wisely.   In my 20 years of government service, I've seen how many "good ideas" can become wasteful spending.  The first pillar of educational reform is to prioritize dollars for learning.        

 

Make no mistake, funding our schools is a top priority, but with a dwindling student population we need to develop a 5-year school consolidation and cooperation plan to reduce costs while maintaining educational quality.  In 1977, Michigan had 636 total public schools and over 2 million students.  Today, Michigan has 899 public schools, which includes 302 charter schools but with half a million less students (approximately 1.5 million students). Consolidation and education cooperatives are needed to help reduce administrative and support costs in order to repurpose those dollars towards instruction.  

 

The second pillar of educational reform is time on task.  Over the past 30-years, there have been many attempts to reform education and most fail after a short uptick in educational performance.  Yet to date, the best correlation to improve student performance is time dedicated to learning.  How students spend their time has great impact on their academic performance.  However, students, teachers, and administrators are becoming overly burdened with requirements that ultimately reduce student learning time and teacher preparation time.     

 

The state legislature cannot micromanage teachers, administrators, or students, but we can provide the necessary resources to enable teachers to teach and students to learn while focusing on academic fundamentals.   We need to rethink our focus on technological innovation.  In effect, we are outsourcing our thinking.  Students need to spend more time memorizing and less time on imputing (i.e. use flash cards more and calculators less), and students need to focus on academic fundamentals.   While in the Army, I learned another valuable lesson—more doesn't mean better.  If elected, I'll focus on better education and not more education.     

               

Paid for by the Committee to Elect Matthew Nilson

www.empowermichigan.com