My old friend Bruce Lewis and I were talking one day about how we can help the new president and, the local neighbors receive quality of life health care from their Government. Bruce asked me about what can we do about it here in Michigan? I pondered the question and the first thing that came into my mind was the huge imbalance in priorities regarding Corrections and Community Health issues. I remember when Pasteur School had a full time nurse working in the building and cooked their own food on site. At least the neighbors had jobs and they sure could cook too.
It is with that spirit and tribute to the people we looked up to in our neighborhood and, the citizens of the State, that I put down a list of things that I will promote in the 2009-2011 legislative session.
- The addition of 1 million Michigan residents to the existing Medicaid program to facilitate Universal Health Care by redirecting Federal Funding of Corrections Budget to the Department of Community Health
- Removing all 3858 Marijuana Related prisoners from the Dept of Corrections system with a savings of up to $36 million dollars.(Click Here for 2007 House Fiscal Agency Report).
- Redirect federal funds from County jails to health care costs by removing Marijuana related prosecutions and paperwork from the prosecutor’s office to the county health departments.
- Funding Programs to increase the use of Community Colleges for the purpose of training and furthering educational opportunities for Michigan residents. This will require the addition of 100,000 slots in State Community Colleges.
- Funding for 25,000 young people working in recreation centers, forestry, alternative fuel development, and other jobs during the summer, including apprentice programs year round.
To accomplish this task, the first thing we will do is modify legislative salary benefits to achieve maximum savings. In some instances the reductions will reduce wages by increasing deductibles on medicines and primary health care. These are tough times and I know my colleagues and I can sacrifice just like our constituents. The pain will be there for a moment but I will add one caveat, there will be a process for the replacement of the additional cost.
To replace this cost, I will petition the Obama Administration to expand the Family Independence Agency rules to include full coverage health care. These funds will be drawn from the existing TARP program or a new program that his Department of Food and Drug Administration develops. I will propose that Persons with insurance will pay a monthly $60 fee to a State of Michigan Universal Health Care fund at a cost of $720 per year. This will grant you rights to receive preventive health care coverage including, mental, vision, and dental care. For every dollar paid into the fund the Federal Government will pay 3 dollars into the fund. If a medical professional is doing a fine job they should get paid accordingly.
Bruce said “hey Mr. Chairman, how do we get more medical professionals on the case”? The young people are very good at video games and graffiti. They sit in school and have video games on their cell phones playing space invaders with people all over the world. To fund this program, I will draft a proposal from my committee to use TARP funding to create one hundred thousand additional spaces in Community Colleges and Universities. Governor Granholm and I are totally committed to education like our parents in the neighborhood were. I was so proud of my constituents that I had my staff to create a PowerPoint presentation on the Restoration of Revenue in Michigan. This is available for public viewing for all to see. In my duties as the chair of the Appropriations committee, this information is a guideline for financial management and stability of State Revenues. (Click here to view MS PowerPoint presentation)
I want to encourage retired professionals to work in the local school districts for 20 hours a week or an agreed time commitment to the schools. Compensation will be in the form of retirement credits, heath care fee credits, or educational credits that can be transferred to individuals such as next of kin and living children under 30 years old. The valuable experience that these professionals have should not be lost forever but passed on to future generations. A person who has the time to write graffiti is a person without a meaningful job. I feel that with the new changes in Washington DC, we all will have a champion to fight for the people who are truly in need like homeowners and out of work youth.
Hey Bruce do you remember the Recreation Centers that the City used to have? We learned how to swim, play basketball, and do arts and crafts. We had lifeguards that lived in the community like Janice Ripton and the Clement boys. The Gym staff had all the local heroes of the High School Basketball team and their friends. The friends’ that were home from College worked out there during the summer and helped the kids. The NCAA let them have summer jobs without penalty and they always gave back to the community. The senior citizens of the neighborhood used the center for various activities and the rental cost was enough to pay staff to clean up and provide the room. Crime was down and people had a common respect for each other because we all loved and cared about the upkeep of the city. Can we fund these types of programs again? It seems that the banks have become the biggest slumlords in the country. What can we do about it? Bruce asked.
Well Brother Lewis, to fund this program I will use the funds that were redirected from the Department of Corrections and federal funds to sponsor a 21st century like C.E.T.A. program. I will propose to cut 2 additional prisons sites in Jackson and Ionia and purge all people in the State of Michigan Corrections system for Marijuana crimes. According to the House Fiscal Agency, in 2008 we have 3858 participants at a cost of up to $32,000 per person for people in Jail, Prison, or Probation in the Corrections system for Marijuana related crimes. By removing these people from the Corrections system combined with all of the adjustments will save the taxpayers at least $5 billion dollars within 5 years. To support this please read the fiscal impact study performed by the Michigan House of Representatives Fiscal Agency in 2008 on the financial impact of the Michigan Medical Marijuana law approved by the voters. (Click here to read PDF document from the House Fiscal Agency).
The Department of Community Health will also allow registration through their website for patients and caregivers to save taxpayer dollars. The era of e-government and the paperless society will be stressed. The cards will produced by Michigan based firms and the system will be maintained by Michigan Residents. I am very pleased at the perspective of law enforcement regarding Medical Marijuana because they do not want to be bothered with “the management and warehousing of weed” as one State Trooper stated during the public hearing and comment session held in January by the Department of Community Health.
Finally, we also have a large number of people who are in the Corrections system that are mental patients in disguise. These people are public health clients instead of Corrections lawbreakers. Given the state of people’s minds during this economic downturn, a lot of compassion needs to be given to people without a living wage. With just $5 billion in TARP funding we can turn Michigan around and save $5 billion in cuts and redistribution of funds to health programs.
With federal matching funds, Michigan and the world will pull out of this national depression of the last 5 years. Bruce to let fellow citizens die when we could have helped them is totally immoral. And to all of my friends, colleagues, and citizens in the State, we the people will be back. We the people will get up and walk it off after the financial hits that we have taken. We will overcome the pain and turn it into a gain! And with that being said, Bruce and I sat down and ate the bar-b-queue Chicken that we cooked outside in the cold winter snow.