Senators Gregory, Whitmer, Anderson and Smith, under their constitutional right of protest (Art. 4, Sec. 18), protested against the passage of Senate Bill No. 956.
Senator Gregory moved that the statement he made during the discussion of the bill be printed as his reasons for voting “no.”
The motion prevailed.
Senator Gregory’s statement, in which Senators Whitmer, Anderson and Smith concurred, is as follows:
I rise to speak against this budget, and I urge my colleagues to vote against this budget. In doing so, I would like to start out by saying that last year the Department of Human Services budget included funding cuts to early childhood education and the elimination of 300 important field staff positions to help pay for a $1.8 billion tax break for corporations. In fact, we are still making painful budget cuts this year for that misguided and unproven corporate handout.
In this year’s budget, you are cutting the Department of Human Services, which tens of thousands of Michigan citizens rely on for care, by over $200 million. This is not government belt-tightening; this is slashing people’s lifelines. This is not only tampering with Michigan’s residents’ lifelines, but Michigan workers’ livelihoods and even their lives as well.
Time and again, we see the problems that arise with privatizing public services when profits are put ahead of people. Yet you insist on putting more and more taxpayer dollars and public services into private and not necessarily capable hands. It is not realistic to think that a private agency should take over the complicated duties of a highly-trained and experienced DHS staff or that these efforts will actually save money. When the compassion and efficiency of the services suffer, our people suffer.
You are choosing to blindly continue your assault on public workers in favor of private corporations. The sensitive and, at times, dangerous work of the brave men and women who work for the Department of Human Services puts them at risk for threats, intimidations, and even assaults. In cutting funding for security at local DHS offices, you are clearly showing that the safety of these workers are not your concern and that you value their protection as little as you value their service.
Finally, this budget continues to rely on funding generated by kicking working families off state assistance. Last year, you callously ended public assistance for 12,600 of the state’s poorest families on the Family Independence program. This year, 17,000 more families will be losing their support before they are ready to survive on their own. Worst yet, more than 90 percent of these families are working but not earning enough to leave assistance.
The critical services provided by the Department of Human Services speaks volumes about our values and how we treat our vulnerable citizens. For the second year in a row, we have put forth a budget that proves that you can care more about boosting the profits of wealth CEOs than caring for children and families living in poverty; that you think public work stinks and that private companies are our savior; and that shared sacrifice is anything but. With this in mind, I ask all of you to think about what you are voting for. I adamantly oppose this budget and urge all of you to do the same