Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012

News from Progress Michigan and We Are the People

Contact: Dawn Kettinger, 517-614-6810,

Zack Pohl, 517-980-6190,

Hope to hear focus on jobs, education, repaired safety net and stronger MI in “State of the State”  

LANSING – Ahead of the Governor’s State of the State address on Wednesday, Michigan leaders are urging the Governor and Legislature to change direction in order to help our students and workers succeed, protect our families and revitalize our economy.

The following are quotes from a telepresser held by five leaders of organizations today. The 27-minute conference can be heard or downloaded at

Todd Cook, State Director, We Are the People:  

We’re here on behalf of middle class families across the state to say it’s time for our elected leaders to get their priorities straight and focus on building an economy that works for everyone – not just the top 1-percent. At last year’s State of the State, Gov. Snyder famously said “Job one is jobs.” But instead of working together to actually create good jobs that pay a fair wage, the Legislature decided to attack our students, seniors and working families. We need the right priorities to get our economy moving in the right direction, and we hope Gov. Snyder will lay out an agenda tomorrow that protects Michigan’s middle class families – not just greedy CEOs and big corporations.


Karla Swift, President, Michigan AFL-CIO:          

 We need a system where working people aren’t contributing a higher percentage of their income in taxes than corporations and wealthy CEO’s, and if we lose our jobs, we need help to pay our bills and feed our kids until we become employed again.   At the Michigan AFL-CIO, our priorities include ending tax-supported outsourcing of jobs, growing the renewable energy jobs sector, investing in public education and teachers, rebuilding the state’s infrastructure, and protecting workers and middle class families.

This year we’re calling on legislators to stop the power struggles, stop wasting time debating divisive policies like so-called “Right to Work”, and focus on solutions that will actually create jobs and rebuild Michigan’s economy. (To read the Michigan AFL-CIO’s 2012 Jobs Plan at


Steve Cook, President, Michigan Education Association:

I hope to hear we’re going to put the interests of our kids before those of corporate CEOs. And I hope to hear that educators can expect the resources and frankly the respect they need to help all students succeed.  … I hope the Republicans start to recognize that public schools are essential to our economic future, that we should be investing in education to create this world-class workforce we all keep talking about and striving for and that will begin to attract the high-quality jobs that will rebuild Michigan’s economy. Most of all, I hope to hear that the Governor and Legislature will use the surplus revenue to restore funding for our public schools.


Erin Knott, Deputy Director, Michigan Citizen Action:

Within our work, we’ve seen the tremendous human cost of Lansing’s misplaced priorities.   Michigan Citizen Action as well as the others that are on this call are calling on the Governor and the Legislature to immediately begin restoring cuts that are hurting Michigan’s struggling families. 

At a time when corporations and insurance companies are thriving, Lansing has pulled the rug out from under struggling families and workers who are desperately trying to get back on their feet and make ends meet. … We all understand that tough choices must be made to move  Michigan forward, but when our hard-working residents, struggling neighbors, and needy children are left behind, we are moving in the wrong direction.

[Erin detailed the slashing of the Earned Income Credit, severe cuts to unemployment benefits for unemployed workers and the state’s extreme 48-month cap on financial assistance for families]


Emily Dievendorf, Director of Policy, Equality Michigan:  [on the new law banning municipalities and school districts from providing health care coverage for domestic partners]

This law is cruel and unconstitutional. It aims to harm hardworking families who have dedicated their lives to the state that they love. We know that some talented people will leave thanks to this law, and because of that, it is a sad day for our state. We’re turning our back on our young people and on our future.

The majority of Michigan residents expect more; 65{ef69e4e9e447e52a60027e369ac6a3d796f53805e5a70de1d67ce22dac9553da} of polled Michigan voters favor non-discrimination and domestic partner benefits policies. While an apology from the Governor is unlikely to be included in this year’s State of the State we contend that it is fair to ask that our communities are safe and prosperous for all families. … Equality Michigan will continue fighting for fairness in Michigan and the Governor will still have chances to come down on the honorable side of history.


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