At Peterson Farms, having a high-quality workforce is vital to our operations. Bad roads and broken schools are two major roadblocks to that work force. The current state of Michigan’s roads hampers our ability to attract the workers we need, and also causes wear and tear on our fleet of vehicles. Meanwhile, the state of Michigan's schools leaves much to be desired. We need to invest in our future workforce and leaders.

That’s why I support Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s plan to fix Michigan’s crumbling infrastructure and education system.

Peterson Farms is the leading processor of fresh-cut apples in the U.S. To help us attract and retain great talent, we’ve built our own on-site housing for employees to provide them a good place to live and ensure they can stay close to their families. But quality housing isn’t enough to attract the employees we need when pothole-riddled roads add another barrier to their employment.

The governor’s plan to fix the roads is just that: a plan. It moves the state away from a band-aid approach — using quick fixes and low-quality materials to repair roads that will have to be redone every year. Instead, this plan ensures roads will be built and repaired using high-quality materials that will last longer. After all, every dollar spent on road preservation delays having to spend $6 to $14 on repair and reconstruction. We support the plan because funding will be dedicated to fixing the roads and transportation and won’t be diverted to other state programs.

We also applaud the governor for trying to change the way we fund schools in Michigan. The governor’s budget would triple the number of literacy coaches at schools across the state. It would also create a weighted formula to improve classroom resources for: special education needs, low-income and at-risk children and Career and Technical Education programs.

Her budget proposal would also help local schools provide a high-quality education to all students by reducing class sizes, upgrading technology and raising teacher pay. The governor’s plan represents the largest investment in meeting the needs of all Michigan students in a generation. If passed, her budget would make huge strides toward improving every classroom in every community across the state, providing every child the chance to succeed.

I applaud Whitmer for taking the road less traveled and putting together a comprehensive plan to fix Michigan’s crumbling infrastructure and create a fairer way to fund our schools.

Richard Raffaelli, Shelby Twp.

chief operating officer, Peterson Farms

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