Elections have consequences
Four years ago, Rick Snyder was elected governor and the Republicans won complete control of the Legislature. One-party control has created clear-cut winners and losers. The winners, large corporations and CEOs, have been given huge tax cuts, while the consequences for the losers — senior citizens, middle-class families, public school students and low income workers — have been devastating.
As a result of the clear differences in the policies of the two candidates, the Michigan Education Association is proud to recommend Mark Schauer to be Michigan’s next governor.
Corporate tax cuts put in place by Snyder and his Republican Legislature were supposed to trickle down to working families, creating jobs and expanding the economy. That experiment failed. Today, only four states in the nation have a higher unemployment rate than Michigan — almost exactly where we started before the corporate tax cuts were enacted. While Snyder’s trickle down scheme left Michigan’s economy unchanged, the prospects for other Michigan citizens have changed, unfortunately for the worse.
Every school district in the state has less funding per student today than when Snyder took office. State data available on www.kidsnotceos.org shows the cuts to every district in the state. No matter what his campaign commercials say, the fact is he did cut nearly $1 billion from Michigan classrooms.
Putting more money into the employee retirement system does not make up for the crippling funding cuts to our Michigan students and teachers.
No matter how many millions the Snyder campaign spends on television ads telling us he’s increased education funding, one fact remains: per-pupil funding has been cut to make way for corporate tax cuts.
A recent poll of Michigan teachers showed that 78 percent had witnessed cuts in their own classrooms, with 85 percent describing the cuts as having a “major impact,” including increased class sizes and cuts to music, arts and athletics.
Like our schools, Michigan’s roads were once the envy of the nation. Not anymore. Even with one party control of state government, Republicans couldn’t agree on a plan to fix our rapidly deteriorating roads — but they had no problem finding a few billion dollars to cut corporate taxes. Snyder failed to lead and Michigan drivers are paying the price.
Senior citizen pensions were also targeted (and taxed) to help pay for Snyder’s corporate tax cut. The governor defends taxation of those senior pensions as “a change to make the tax system fairer.” Ask a senior citizen if they believe our tax system is fairer after they suddenly saw their meager pension check taxed while corporations reaped a windfall tax cut.
Low-income wage earners also chipped into the Snyder corporate tax cut pot as their tax break was cut by 70 percent. Today, more Michigan families are in poverty than when he took office.
Campaigns create an image of a candidate—but they can’t change the candidate’s record. In his first campaign for governor four years ago, he touted himself as “One Tough Nerd.” Unfortunately, he didn’t tell us who he would be tough on — turns out it was senior citizens, public schools, and low-income workers. In this campaign, he sells himself as an “accountant.” But this time, we understand what he means. He is an accountant for corporations and CEOs, at the expense of the middle-class families, senior citizens and students.
Steven Cook is president of the Michigan Education Association.
Labor Voices columns are written on a rotating basis by United Auto Workers President Dennis Williams, Teamsters President James Hoffa, Michigan AFL-CIO President Karla Swift and Michigan Education Association President Steven Cook.