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Growing up in southeast Michigan, I learned the value of hard work and the importance of community from my parents, a UAW member and a high school cafeteria worker. They worked hard to build a better life for me and my younger siblings — making sure that we had opportunities that they never did; opportunities to go to college and even to become a state representative. My family was able to achieve the American Dream because of hard work, supportive community members, and policies that fostered economic opportunity and created jobs Downriver.

The path to ensuring others have the same opportunities my family did is simple: invest in local businesses, public education, infrastructure and job creation. So why, then, is our state government sending $7 billion of your tax dollars to out-of-state or international businesses instead of investing that money right here at home?

Most agree that Michigan should act to help homegrown businesses create more good-paying jobs for Michigan workers. Too many of our friends and neighbors still struggle to pay their bills and provide for their families. However, further slanting the economic playing field in favor of major corporations — especially those from other states or other countries — is not the way to create an economy that works for everyone.

Our focus must shift if we are going to rebuild our middle class Downriver and across the state.

That’s why I am proud to be one of the sponsors of a four-bill package we call “Michigan Jobs First.”

Instead of directing dollars away from schools, roads and infrastructure, Michigan Jobs First would give in-state businesses a leg up over out-of-state corporations when bidding for a state contract.

Our bills would give these homegrown Michigan businesses an 8 percent financial advantage when bidding for contracts with the state. A review of state financial records found that almost $7 billion in state contract dollars were invested in out-of-state businesses. We can, and we must, do better.

The Michigan Jobs First bills would also allow Michigan businesses the opportunity to resubmit bids for state or local government contracts if they are underbid by out-of-state or overseas. We want our tax dollars spent wisely. State and local governments should consider the economic benefits of creating jobs in our communities when evaluating contract bids. When we invest in Michigan, and when we invest in Michigan workers, we get rewarded with more consumer spending at local businesses and increased state revenue.

The final bill, HB 4477, would require the state to publicly post the number and wages of jobs created by state contractors. My bill will hold the state and its contractors accountable to promises they make to create good-paying jobs. We deserve to know if these contracts are producing results and providing a good return on our investment. It’s our money after all.

It’s not right that the Travel Michigan website is designed by a company in Iowa, or that the “Pure Michigan” ads are created by a firm in New York. We have businesses right here in Michigan that can do that work and create jobs for our friends and neighbors.

Major corporations don’t need any more help. The path to a healthy economy that works for everyone includes putting our tax dollars back into the small, homegrown businesses that put their dollars back into our communities. I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle join me in putting “Michigan Jobs First” again.

Rep. Darrin Camilleri, D-Brownstown Township, represents Michigan’s 23rd House district.

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