Michigan has the honor of being the place that had the first paved road in the world. Woodward Avenue was paved in 1917 and stood as the next, real step into the future; a future that the people of Michigan were the first to witness. Now, over one hundred years later, Michigan roads have fallen into a state of disrepair. In what feels like an unwanted return to the past, we now drive on roads that feel like they are more pothole than they are actual road. Our infrastructure woes don't end there. We also have to worry about the quality of water after the tragedy that was, and very much still is Flint, and the new information of outdated pipes and poisoned aquifers that threaten other communities outside of Flint. The times seem bleak, but have hope.
Have hope because we can fix our infrastructure problems across the state. From St. Clair County to Copper Harbor, we can keep our communities connected physically and digitally. We can target not only the problems of today, but also begin preparing for the future. A future of autonomous vehicles, an increasingly connected population, and an energy grid that readily utilizes renewable energy sources. We have the workforce and skills available to move towards this bright future, all it requires is some work. With some elbow grease, new materials, and creative solutions to age-old problems, we can make Michigan the leader in modern infrastructure in the state.
As your representative, I am committed to not only working to repair the current infrastructure in the state, but to also prepare for the future. To look for ways that we can use infrastructure to improve access to not only our communities and homes, but to also increase access to services that improve the life of the average Michigander. I promise to pass legislation that focuses on:
- Repairing our roads and bridges with materials and procedures that can endure the harsh weather conditions in our state.
- Keeping our waterways and shores ecologically stable and usable to ensure that our boating communities and shipping channels can continue to generate valuable revenue.
- Ensuring that our electrical grid can keep the lights on for our rural neighbors by making it easier for companies and consumers to utilize alternative energy sources.
- Prioritizing water quality in our local communities by ensuring that the pipes and water sources we use won't have the potential to poison our neighbors.
- Expanding public transportation options and services for those in rural areas to make access to valuable services easier and to entice economic growth outside of urban areas.
- Expanding the broadband and cellular backbone across the state with a specific focus on rural communities.
Looking beyond the ways we physically navigate the state, we must also consider updating and repairing our digital roadways and systems. As your Representative, it will be a major goal of mine to update Michigan's digital infrastructure to not only make it more efficient, elegant, and accessible; but, to also prepare for the near future and what innovations it will bring.
My plan includes:
- Pushing to re-instate Net Neutrality laws to keep the Internet affordable and equal for all Michiganders and businesses to ensure they can stay connected and informed.
- Repealing laws that restrict local communities from allowing them to form their own municipal broadband services and remove the near-monopoly that service providers have.
- Prioritizing connecting rural communities so that the elderly, handicapped, and disabled populations can access the proper medical and mental treatments they need.
- Updating Michigan's government websites to make it easier for citizens to navigate, stay connected, and make requests/payments with their state and local governments.
- Creating an online portal to connect citizens with events and volunteering opportunities across communities to help reinvigorate the places where we live and work.
- Ensuring that students and teachers are properly educated on how to understand and utilize the computing tools required to navigate the digital world and to ensure Michigan has a well-educated, modern workforce.
- Utilizing funding to study and best understand how physical and digital infrastructure can work in conjunction to prepare for a future of autonomous vehicles, smart intersections, and an always-connected citizenry.
It's no secret that every candidate across the state is discussing the same problems I am in regards to infrastructure. My only question is, "where will you find the funding?" In order to find the appropriate revenue without hurting the average Michigander and their wallet, we need to get creative in finding sources of revenue for such projects. I believe that a major source of income can be legalizing and taxing marijuana. Using the sales tax revenue, Michigan has the potential to raise tens of millions of new dollars, year-after-year, that we can use to not only repair our physical infrastructure, but to also properly maintain our roads, bridges, and websites for the long term. In addition, my marijuana plan utilizes a portion of the excise taxes on marijuana to be given to local governments to utilize for their own local projects. This gives communities control over funds they could use to reinvigorate their local economies. This is to ensure that change can come to all communities, big and small, urban and rural. This, in addition to restoring revenue sharing rights for communities, allows greater freedom in local communities to work on the projects they desperately need repaired.
In addition, I will also ensure that the financial responsibility for our infrastructure does not solely fall on the shoulders of the average Michigander. We need to ensure that we hold corporations responsible for their use of our infrastructure. As they ship goods in trucks, freighters, and trains that draw large amounts of electricity, use millions of gallons of fuel, and roll across our rail yards and expressways with tons of their goods, they put the most stress on our physical infrastructure. We have to ensure that they are paying their fair share to keep the roads flat, the lights on, and our water drinkable.
With my plan this is all possible. That we can not only repair the problems that have been plaguing Michigan for decades, but to also look towards and prepare for the future. Over one hundred years ago Michigan began the infrastructural revolution by paving Woodward Avenue. It's time for Michigan to lead the next revolution in infrastructure by looking towards the future with our sleeves rolled up, tools in hand, and optimism in our eyes.