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Last night, Gov. Rick Snyder outlined his plan for Michigan in his 2015 State of the State address. With the pomp and circumstance over, it's now time for legislators to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

Luckily, that is exactly what my Democratic colleagues and I are focused on in the year ahead. We can't allow the political parties after our names to keep us from working together for the common good. Whether Democrats or Republicans, representatives or senators, we all work for the people of Michigan. But more important than just pledging to work together, we must produce actual results that reflect the needs and concerns of Michiganians. People don't care whose name is on a bill or who gets the credit, they want us to put their interests first and get the job done.

As the first Iraq War veteran to serve in the Michigan Senate, that means doing more to help Michigan veterans. Whether our veterans are in Fallujah or Frankenmuth, Baghdad or Bay City, elected officials have the ability to make a difference and we must make sure our policies are as patriotic as our rhetoric. When our veterans return to Michigan after defending our country abroad, we owe it to them to help to ease the process of finding employment and increasing access to the education and health care they earned.

We also must do more to support our public schools, from Kindergarten all the way to college. We need to support those students who want to enter a trade or vocational career while also ensuring that college is attainable for everyone. Moreover, once a student goes to advance their training or attend college, we need to make sure that a degree is affordable.

At 28 years old, I have the distinction of being the youngest member of the Michigan Senate.

I chose to stay in our state because I believed in the promise of a brighter future. I still do today. I hear legislators talk about how we need to attract and retain young people in our state to help build the next generation but as a recent college graduate, I've seen what our inaction has led to. Like many of you, I'm tired of seeing my friends and family members take their creativity, ambition, and entrepreneurial spirit out of state. I want those residents to keep their talents right here in Michigan where they can make a real difference.

Finally, if we want to compete for, create and develop 21st Century jobs, we need to nurture a 21st Century atmosphere. Michigan needs to stand out from other states by adopting common-sense policies like paid sick days, equal pay for women, and equal rights for all citizens. Currently we're at a competitive disadvantage. Every elected official should want to attract the talent of today in order to create the growth of tomorrow. It's time we start passing the policies to actually do it.

It is time for every elected official to send a message across Michigan that partisanship for the sake of partisanship is the enemy of progress. Once we do that, we can return to the task, together, of making this state the best place to work, worship, and raise a family.

State Sen. David Knezek, D-Dearborn Heights, represents the 5th District.

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