The following letter was sent to Royal Oak Patch by , a Royal Oak resident:
Several people have contacted me in the past week to ask me what my priorities are when it comes to our kids’ education. While I’m always happy to talk about a matter that is so important to our families and our community, the fact that so many people have called in such a short time is no coincidence. I, along with several other Democrats in the Michigan Legislature, have been subjected to misleading election-year robocalls.
More on that in a minute.
First, and most importantly, my priority when it comes to education is simple: to assure that every child in our state has access to a world-class education. And that is why I voted against the education omnibus bill recently passed by the Republicans who dominate our Capitol. I voted against it because next year’s school budget does little to undo the atrocious cuts made to education the year before, when nearly $1 billion was taken from our kids and their schools in order to help fund $1.8 billion in tax breaks to major corporations.
As a result of last year’s cuts, school districts around the state closed schools and cut an estimated 15,000 teacher and other school jobs. This has pushed our kids into overflowing classrooms that lack basic supplies. In many instances, our children can no longer take textbooks home to study because there aren’t enough of them to go around.
This year, the Republicans threw spare change at our schools in an attempt to make it appear that school funding has been restored. Make no mistake — it hasn’t. After cutting nearly $1 billion a year ago, Republicans this year offered to add back just $200 million. It would be as though a thief stole $100 from your wallet and then gave you back $20, expecting you to be grateful. I didn’t fall for that ploy, and I trust my constituents won’t either.
What’s worse, the Republican school budget also pits school against school, making them compete with each other for incentive-based funding increases. This is unfair to our kids and wrong for our state. Funding should go where it’s needed most, not to school districts that already have the financial wherewithall to meet our governor’s arbitrarily picked and untested list of “best practices.”
These are the reasons I voted against the Republican school budget, which they shamefully promoted as a step forward for our kids. I stand behind my vote and I am fighting to restore full funding to our schools. I am always glad to speak to voters about how much I value providing a quality education to every Michigan child. You never need to wait for a robocall prompt to reach out to me and discuss it.
While education has always been one of my priorities in the Legislature, I have been equally adamant that Michigan deserves leaders who are as fair, hard-working and honest as the people who elect them. This is why I have joined with Democrats in the state House to introduce a number of government and election reforms, among them a measure that would require robocalls to identify the organization that paid for them. I also introduced a measure to require Michigan’s top elected officials, including legislators and the governor, to submit financial disclosures. Michigan is one of just three states lacking that sort of transparency.
The Republicans who dominate the state Legislature haven’t allowed these measures to come to a vote, which I believe is a disservice to the people of Michigan. Had they passed, the people who received robocalls urging people to call me to discuss education would have known who urged them to call me.
While I am always willing to explain where I stand on the issues, it’s a shame my constituents can’t demand the same of the unidentified organization behind the robocall.
- Rep. Jim Townsend