FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News from the Michigan AFL-CIO and Progress Michigan
October 31, 2016
Contact: Sam Inglot, 616-916-0574, firstname.lastname@example.org
‘MI Big Rig’ Tour Visits Grand Rapids to Hold Lansing Republicans Accountable for Abuse at Grand Rapids Veterans Home
Semi-truck representing the MIGOP’s “rigged” economy making stops in eight cities
GRAND RAPIDS — Michiganders spoke out today and shared their stories in Grand Rapids and Muskegon today as part of the “MI Big Rig” Accountability Tour to hold Michigan Republicans accountable. The tour, featuring a semi-truck with photos of Republican elected officials, is an effort to educate voters about how Republicans have rigged Michigan’s economy to favor their corporate donors, while privatizing the Grand Rapids Veterans Home, which has led to rampant neglect and abuse of veterans. Progress Michigan and the Michigan AFL-CIO organized the tour.
“Voters have every right to feel angry, because after six years in power, Lansing Republicans have rigged Michigan’s economy,” said Ron Bieber, president of the Michigan AFL-CIO. “They’ve manipulated the rules to favor their corporate campaign donors, like the wealthy DeVos family, by handing out $2 billion in tax breaks to big corporations. Meanwhile, Republicans privatized jobs at the Grand Rapids Veterans Home, which has been an absolute disaster for our vets. It’s time to hold them accountable, it’s time to get our priorities straight, and it’s time to focus on building an economy that works for everyone, including the middle class.”
The semi-truck is outfitted with a banner donning the faces of Gov. Rick Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette, House Speaker Kevin Cotter, and Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, as well as visual symbols of the Republican failures, including the Grand Rapids Veterans Home and the Flint Water Crisis.
“Republicans will tell you that their policies are a success story, but successful for who?” questioned Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “If you’re a rich campaign donor, you’re probably doing just fine. But for hardworking Michiganders in Flint, or students taking on more and more debt to pay for school, or veterans who served this country only to have their cries for help ignored to save face for a failed privatization experiment, it’s a different story. Republicans have had opportunities to build an economy that works for everyone, but they’ve squandered them.”
The tour features Michigan residents who are retirees, teachers, students, working people, and veterans who have been affected by Republicans’ wrong priorities in Lansing. The tour, which launched at the State Capitol in Lansing last Thursday, will be making stops in eight cities over the next week.
“In the military, we take a pledge to leave no soldier behind,” David Rios, a US Army veteran who served in Vietnam. “But by privatizing the Grand Rapids Veterans Home, Lansing Republicans have left our veterans behind to fend for themselves in absolutely deplorable conditions. These men and women don’t need another government report to see that privatization has been a total disaster. We need to hold these politicians in Lansing accountable, and start getting our veterans the care they’ve earned.”
Another prime example of Republicans rigging the system for their corporate donors is the Capitol View Building in Lansing. Michigan Republicans spent $134 million taxpayer dollars to buy a lavish and unnecessary office building from one of their largest campaign donors. The Lansing assessor has said the state drastically overpaid for the building, and the cost could spiral much higher. Meanwhile, over two years into the Flint Water Crisis, very little has changed for residents of the city.
“People in Flint are tired. We’re tired of seeing inaction in Lansing. We’re tired of Republicans having the wrong priorities,” said Flint resident Keri Webber. “We’re tired of wondering if our showers are filled with poison, or if our pets will die from lead. Very few pipes have been replaced, people are still living off of bottled water, and the mistrust of Republican elected officials in power in Lansing continues to grow.”
Students and their families have also taken a hit over last six years of total Republican control in Lansing. Over that time, drastic cuts have been made to the higher education budget, causing tuition hikes and program cuts to continue year after year.
“I want to live in a state that values the future — that prioritizes education so that the innovators, business owners, and working families of tomorrow are not shackled with thousands of dollars in debt before we even get our diplomas,” said Jordan Chrispell, a political science senior at Grand Valley State University.
The MI Big Rig Accountability Tour will be making stops in these areas over the coming week: