The following is an editorial by state Representative Gretchen Driskell (D-Saline). Driskell represents the 52nd District, which comprises Saline, Chelsea, part of Ann Arbor and the townships of northern and western Washtenaw County. If you have any questions about this article, please contact Rep. Driskell at (855) 627-5052 or by email at[email protected].
On Monday night, the state representatives of Washtenaw County held a Listening Tour at the Washtenaw ISD building. We were very interested in hearing directly from our constituents regarding their thoughts on the impact of recently introduced state policies and the direction they wish the state to take. More than 70 participants of varying ages and backgrounds attended the event. I want to thank all of them for coming and voicing their thoughts, as we will be developing policy initiatives based on the responses we receive during this statewide Listening Tour.
The discussion lasted two hours, as participants shared their hopes and concerns with us. They were grateful that we were there to listen, and we all learned a lot together. My colleagues and I heard from a variety of people about all sorts of issues at the Listening Tour event. Some constituents discussed the importance of expanding Medicaid, opposed the suggested changes to the Electoral College and the effect that increasing the gas tax and registration fees to fund infrastructure would have on the state's economy. Others talked about the large number of people leaving the state, as teachers and retirees in particular are feeling overly burdened by policies enacted in the last two years. We also heard from workers who have been having difficulty accessing their unemployment benefits due to changes in the law, and seniors who are worried about the negative impact of the pension tax.
The major topic of discussion was the fact that our public education system is being compromised in multiple ways. The underfunding (current funding stands at 2001 levels) has caused constraints in curricula, created pay-to-play programs and increased class sizes. Such underfunding results in an inability for the state to provide equal opportunity for students of all income levels to access public education. Additionally, for-profit charter schools and cyber schools draw money away from the School Aid Fund without any accountability to taxpayers. These are all valid concerns, and I will continue working in Lansing to address them.
For those residents who were unable to come to the Listening Tour event, I encourage you to contact me. I'm here to work for you, and the more informed I am, the better I will be as your legislator. Call me toll-free at (855) 627-5052, email me at[email protected], attend one of my coffee hours or stop by my office in Lansing. I appreciate your comments, your concerns and your suggestions.
Thank you for your support! Together, we'll continue making Washtenaw County a great place to work, play, and live.