Democrats should push for strengthening Michigan economy

The people of Michigan deserve a government that works for them and makes this state a better place to live. As elected officials, our highest duty is to serve the needs of those people who entrusted us with the power to represent them.

The Lansing political environment has been poisoned by the events of the lame duck session. Some political strategists believe the Democrats should adopt a “just say no” strategy which is the same tactic Republicans in Washington adopted four years ago against President Obama. The results of that was a “do-nothing Congress” with historically low public approval ratings. That strategy is designed to fail. My Democratic leadership has pledged to continue to make serious efforts to work across the aisle to create meaningful solutions. In order to move forward, Democrats must be allowed to move bills that will strengthen Michigan’s economy. In the past two years, Democrats have been shut out of the process.

We should begin the new session of the Michigan Legislature by taking fast action on the many items we can agree upon. Among the items in Gov. Snyder’s State of the State address that I can enthusiastically embrace are the following.

The governor has proposed a $10 billion infrastructure investment into our road system and transportation network. As a person who drives a car, I welcome that proposal. In working towards this objective our challenge is to find a way to fund it fairly and spread the cost fairly across the state. The state which gave us the automobile should not have some of the worst roads in the United States.

Michigan and Detroit have the unique advantage of being in a desirable geographic position enabling us to become the hub of a transportation network including air, land and water. We can bring tens of thousands of jobs to the area and the impact of those jobs will help both business and the employees who work for them. As Mayor Coleman A. Young once observed, “There isn’t a problem in Detroit that a good job with some benefits can’t solve.”

The governor wants to make jobs and improving Michigan’s economy his top priority. I agree. We need to adopt pro-growth policies which help business expand and hire more workers. Our goal as state lawmakers must be to grow the economy. If that is truly our goal then I am excited to continue the work that the people of my district sent me to Lansing to accomplish.

The governor wants to increase aid for military veterans and I support that without reservation. As a veteran of the United States Navy, I have experienced the problems veterans feel when they attempt to transition into civilian life. The governor has asked us to work with him as he looks towards enhancing and expanding programs to help veterans obtain education and job training. Undoubtedly, those are areas we should act upon quickly.

With the Sandy Hook massacre behind us, many are now looking at rebuilding our system of public mental health. I was encouraged to hear Gov. Snyder endorse more funds and more programs in this vital area for all of us. Let’s begin rebuilding a once strong system and let’s do it in a true bi-partisan approach.

Several Detroit legislators have backed a series of proposals known as the Strengthening Neighborhoods and Communities acts. The governor endorsed these in his speech and I am proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with him in fighting the corrosive effects of slumlords and the destructive impact they have, particularly in the city of Detroit.
My commitment in this 97th legislature is to work across the aisle with Republicans to find solutions to these important issues. Entrenching ourselves in deep ideological beliefs does not serve the citizens of Michigan. Working together is what the people have sent us to do in Lansing and I look forward to this legislative session.

State Rep. Harvey Santana represents the 9th House District in Detroit. Residents can contact Representative Santana at (517) 373-6990 or via e-mail at


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