Stabenow Statement on Republican Tax Proposal

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, released a statement on the Republican tax proposal:

“Our tax code shouldn’t be so complicated that you need to buy a computer program or hire an accountant to file your taxes. I support reform that simplifies our tax code, puts more money back into the pockets of hardworking families, helps small businesses, and spurs job creation in Michigan. I am concerned that today’s proposal would give most of the benefits to those at the top and would take away important tax incentives for Michigan manufacturers. As we work on reform in the coming months, the bottom line for me is that any reform must be bipartisan, help Michigan families and create Michigan jobs.”

Stabenow is the author of the Bring Jobs Home Act of 2017 that ends a loophole that gives a tax break to companies that send jobs overseas. Senator Stabenow first introduced this legislation in 2012, and in every Congress since, but Senate Republicans have repeatedly blocked it.

Stabenow also introduced the Growing Small Businesses Act earlier this year, which would provide a tax cut to a small business getting started or planning to grow and expand. The bill provides a 25 percent tax credit for the cost of buildings and equipment for a business’s first commercial production facility.

Stabenow, Blunt Introduce Bill to Reauthorize Critical Funding for Community Health Centers

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) and Roy Blunt (Mo.)  yesterday introduced the Community Health Investment, Modernization, and Excellence (CHIME) Act, which would reauthorize the Community Health Center Fund (CHCF) and the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) for five years. In addition, the bipartisan bill provides four percent increases for the CHCF and NHSC every year beginning in FY2019.

“Michigan families rely on the health care they receive at over 260 community health center sites in our state, including low-cost dental coverage, mental health care, vision services, and more,” said Stabenow. “Critical funding for these community health centers expires this weekend. I want to thank Senator Roy Blunt for leading this bipartisan effort with me and urge Congress to act on this important extension.”

Community health centers are a critical component of the nation’s primary care network, serving approximately 26 million patients at over 10,000 sites throughout the United States. Community health centers operate in both rural and urban areas, in every state in the nation. Last year, health centers were the medical home for one in twelve Americans, one in ten children, one in six Americans living in rural areas, and more than 330,000 of our nation’s veterans.

“More than half a million Missourians, 27 percent of whom are uninsured, rely on community health centers to provide critical, affordable health care services,” said Blunt. “The care provided at these facilities doesn’t just save lives, it saves money by cutting down on the unnecessary use of emergency rooms and hospitalizations. This bill will ensure that community health centers remain open, and extend funding for the National Health Service Corps, which brings medical, dental, and behavioral health professionals to underserved areas. I’m encouraged by the strong, bipartisan support for this bill, and I’ll continue working to ensure community health centers have the resources they need.”

Without extension of the CHCF, community health centers will lose seventy percent of their funding. This will result in an estimated 2,800 site closures, the loss of 50,000 jobs, and result in 9 million Americans losing their access to care.

Earlier this month, Stabenow and Blunt led a bipartisan group of senators in calling for immediate action to extend critical funding for community health centers before funding runs out at the end of this week.

The CHIME Act is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Ben Cardin (Md.), Tom Carper (Del.), Susan Collins (Maine), Cory Gardner (Colo.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), and Roger Wicker (Miss.).

Senators Stabenow, Peters Introduce Small Business Access to Capital Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Gary Peters (D-MI) today introduced the Small Business Access to Capital Act, which will reauthorize and improve the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) to help small businesses grow and create jobs. The legislation builds on the successful SSBCI initiative that both lawmakers championed in the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. SSBCI funds the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and other state-led lending programs that leverage private financing to help small businesses access the capital they need.

“Small businesses create the majority of new jobs, and when owners can access capital, they can expand and keep the economy growing,” Senator Stabenow said. “Access to capital is an important issue that owners have raised with me as I have travelled the state this past year on my Small Business Tour. I’m pleased to be joining with Senator Peters to build on this successful program that has helped hundreds of small businesses and manufacturers get off the ground or expand.”

“Michigan is home to more than 856,000 small businesses that rely on access to critical resources that help them compete, grow and create new jobs in our communities,” said Senator Peters. “I’m glad to partner with Senator Stabenow to introduce legislation that will expand this successful effort and provide additional resources to boost Michigan small businesses that are the backbone of our economy.”

Michigan has exhausted all SSBCI federal funding, expending over $100 million to date that has leveraged a total investment of nearly $600 million, including private capital. This investment has helped businesses create or retain over 12,000 jobs across the state. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation will be able to continue its SSBCI lending programs using recycled federal funds from paid back loans and state funding.

The Small Business Access to Capital Act of 2017 builds on the initial program’s success by providing an additional $500 million in formula funds to all states based on the 2010 law. Michigan would receive over $26 million in new formula funding-more than every state except Florida and California. The bill will also create a new, competitive $1 billion pool of funding for states that have already capitalized on funding from the 2010 program.

Statement from State Rep. Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) on Recently Proposed Auto Insurance Reform

LANSING – Yesterday, a coalition of legislators introduced legislation to reform no-fault auto insurance in an attempt to lower insurance rates in Michigan. State Representative Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) released the following statement:

“While I applaud the work that so many have done to find a solution to lower auto insurance rates, I am concerned that Michigan drivers are promised phantom savings and will not have the protection they need when they become involved in an auto accident. Auto insurers will save millions in claim payments under House Bill 5013, but drivers who keep their current benefits will see no rate reductions. Taking away coverage to reduce premiums while shifting medical costs on to Michigan drivers is the wrong approach to tackle high auto insurance rates. Serious reforms should include creating a state fraud authority to aggressively go after fraud and claims handling abuse and requiring the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association be more open and transparent. I am committed to working with my colleagues in Lansing to legitimate and permanent insurance premium rate reductions while protecting the health and well-being of accident victims.”

One last chance to repeal and replace Obamacare and save the 115th Congress

By Natalia Castro

For the last eight months, we have watched the Republican Party flounder on healthcare. Now, with the clock running out, most seem to agree on one thing — this is their last, best chance to repeal and replace Obamacare this year. Republicans are pushing for a vote this week to pass a replacement for Obamacare, and many are hoping this will be the first major legislative achievement for this Congress. All they need is for Republicans to finally utilize the majority they have been holding back.

The legislation put forth by U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham(R-S.C.), Bill Cassidy(R-La.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), and former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), referred to as the Cassidy-Graham bill, offers an approach which Republicans across the spectrum should approve of.

The legislation removes harmful Obamacare burdens such as the individual mandate and the employer mandate, which forced individuals to purchase coverage and discouraged employers from hiring full-time workers. The bill also empowers states by allowing them to apply for waivers from Obamacare regulations and provides block grants for state flexibility with their own healthcare plans.

This might not be the full repeal and replace Republicans had once hoped for, but they ruined any chance of that when they failed to garner the votes to pass those bills months ago. Now, time is nearly up and this is the best opportunity to prevent millions of Americans from facing dramatic premium increases.

Considering, conservatives leaders such as Utah’s Mike Lee and Arkansas’s Tom Cotton have already voiced positivity toward the bill alongside common Republican moderates writing the bill such as Heller and Graham, this could be a turning point for momentum within the GOP.

Conservative coalitions are even rushing to back to the bill. Endorsements for passage have been given by Americans for Limited Government, the Wall Street Journal, Christian Coalition of American, and The Weekly Standard.

The bill has also received support from the President, and 15 Republicans sitting Governors who wrote in a letter to Mitch McConnell, “Adequately funded, flexible block grants to the states are the last, best hope to finally repeal and replace Obamacare – a program which is collapsing before our very eyes. We stand ready to work with you and the other members of the Senate, the Speaker and the other members of the House, and with the President and his administration to repeal Obamacare and replace it with something that works – in the states.”

Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski was a splinting vote in the GOP’s early repeal and replace push, but now Republicans seem to be willing to throw her a bone to promote party unity and finally move the legislation.

Alaska and four other sparsely populated states could be shielded from major cuts to Medicaid through 2026.

Politico reports, “The Medicaid delay would potentially apply to Alaska, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota and Montana, based on their low-density populations. Those states would be allowed to opt out on the bill’s fixed payments if certain health spending conditions are met in the prior year or the HHS secretary determines the new funding system is insufficient. The chance to opt out would end in 2026.”

Murkowski has been clear about her current reservations with the bill and how it will affect such as high cost, low-density state like hers. Graham and Cassidy’s planned changes could make her decision easier.

Unfortunately, complicating matters, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has predictably come out against the bill.

And Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has once again insisted on a “bipartisan” approach, despite having voted for similar legislation this summer before voting against the so-called “skinny” repeal. Whatever party unity has been gained by the GOP in the process of building support for Graham-Cassidy has been squandered by McCain.

Apparently the bill that McCain’s against are the ones that have a chance of actually passing.

Now all eyes turn toward Rand Paul and Lisa Murkowski. They must realize this is a pivotal point for the country suffering from high premiums under Obamacare. Senate leaders must approach both to see what they’d be comfortable with if modifications to the legislation are needed.

The failure to govern here is beyond disappointing, it is disenfranchising the American people who voted to get something in place on health care besides Obamacare.

With immigration and tax reform fights right around the corner, Republicans must show unity and strength to get the Trump agenda voters selected in 2016 passed. This is a critical opportunity to make good on one of the party’s oldest campaign promises. Now is not the time for internal fights, it is time to come together as a majority and replace Obamacare once and for all. Otherwise, the job might fall to the 116th Congress.

Natalia Castro is a contributing editor for Americans for Limited Government.

Rep. Hintz Statement on Biennial Budget and the Foxconn Bill

MADISON – Today, Rep. Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh), a member of the budget-writing Joint Committee on Finance, released the following statement regarding the passage of the biennial budget and the Foxconn legislation:

“In the last twenty-four hours, Assembly Republicans have repeatedly failed the citizens of our state. From the missed opportunities to provide long-term, sustainable investments to our public schools and roads, to providing the largest taxpayer handout to a foreign company in US history, Wisconsin Republicans are proving that they are more interested in doing damage control on their own failed policies, instead of leading.

“Wisconsin is in its eighth consecutive year of economic growth, yet we are spending more than the revenue we bring in during both years of this biennium. Instead of investing in small business development or our UW System, we promised up to $3 billion dollars to a foreign company with virtually no strings attached.

It is clear to me after watching the votes come in on the budget and the Foxconn deal that my constituents will be on the hook for the mistakes of a desperate Governor with a weak economic record, crumbling transportation infrastructure, and an outmigration of working aged people, and who has now offered the largest ever subsidy provided by a state to a foreign company.”

Wisconsin Rep. Hintz Column: Undermining Wisconsin’s Future

COLUMN: Undermining Wisconsin’s Future

Scott Walker has had the advantage of being Wisconsin’s governor during the third-longest national economic expansion in U.S. history. While Wisconsin’s economy has lagged behind the national average during his time as governor, there still has been state revenue growth in each state budget. Yet even with these increases, Gov. Walker has slashed funding for higher education and K-12 education.

If Wisconsin has more money, why haven’t we increased investment in educational opportunity? The answer is simple. For Gov. Walker and Republicans, it is a bigger priority to direct those state resources to tax cuts for the wealthy.

Wisconsin’s budget has become increasingly strained by the governor’s so-called “Manufacturing and Agriculture Tax Credit”. When it was abruptly slipped into the 2011 budget, the credit was forecast to cost $128 million each year when fully phased in by 2016-’17. However, state estimates show that the credit cost has more than doubled. This tax giveaway is now expected to balloon to $334 million a year by 2018-’19. In addition to cuts made to public schools and higher education, 148 school districts have voted to raise their own property taxes by nearly $630 million to avoid harmful cuts to educational programs since 2011. The state resources being diverted to this credit have also resulted in the governor actually borrowing $209 million the last three years from future taxpayers—just to keep the budget in the black.

There have been huge consequences and costs associated with this credit. It would be one thing if the hundreds of millions spent on this giveaway had resulted in successful job creation. But they have not. Under Gov. Walker, Wisconsin dropped from 12,009 manufacturing jobs gained in 2010 to 3,776 manufacturing jobs lost in 2016.

Which brings us to Foxconn, and what it means for Wisconsin’s future.

Since becoming Governor, Scott Walker has desperately tried to define himself as the pro-jobs governor. His efforts have, of course, been a gigantic failure. Currently, Walker’s track record includes: an unfulfilled pledge to create 250,000 jobs by the end of his first term; a mining bill which promised thousands of jobs but created zero; anti-worker reforms; and more reckless tax credits aimed at drawing new business.

These failures have led our frantic governor to double-down on a costly economic trickle-down fantasy: his proposal to offer the most expensive state taxpayer-funded subsidy to a foreign company in U.S. history. It is important to note that because slashing taxes for the wealthy and corporations is now the operating principle of the Wisconsin Republican Party, Foxconn’s billionaire owner will now owe basically nothing in taxes. Therefore, he will be receiving up to $3 billion in tax credits as a cash payment from Wisconsin taxpayers.

Before the 2017-’19 budget is signed—and before the legislature approved $3 billion in taxpayer-funded incentives—Wisconsin faces a $1 billion deficit in the 2019-’21 budget. With economic growth projections being lowered for the next few years, state growth will likely slow as well.

Walker has left the state fiscally unprepared for slower economic times. Now he is betting it all on the Foxconn package, which, under the best-case scenario, would not break even for a quarter-century. And knowing Walker’s and Foxconn’s history of “overpromising and underperforming,” this best case is not likely to happen.

The opportunity cost of not investing in transportation, the future education of our children and further incentivizing entrepreneurship is very real. Just like public school and university cuts paid for massive tax cuts the past few years, you can assume that taxpayer funding for Foxconn will come at the expense of these programs once again.

Gordon Hintz serves in the Wisconsin State Assembly as the representative for the 54th District.

3-Month Debt Deal Disappointing, But Buys American People Time To Make Voices Heard

Sept. 6, 2017, Fairfax, Va.—Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement in response to the latest deal on the debt ceiling, continuing resolution and disaster relief funding:

“While it is disappointing that the status quo in Washington, D.C. is being perpetuated through December on the continuing resolution and debt ceiling, President Donald Trump has changed the playing field. By extending the debate over the debt ceiling and government funding for another 3 months, this allows a more focused effort to get the GOP Congress to keep their promises on funding the wall, reining in government, cutting taxes and repealing Obamacare. This buys the American people the time they need to make their voices heard, and most importantly, it gives GOP legislators one last chance to get it right.”

Senator Stabenow Highlights Great Lakes Restoration Success Stories Across Michigan, Importance of Federal Funding

Ishpeming, Michigan – This month, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow is highlighting Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) success stories throughout Michigan and the importance of federal funding to protect our lakes and waterways. Stabenow today joined the City of Ishpeming, Marquette County and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to celebrate the Partridge Creek Diversion Project that was critical to Deer Lake receiving a clean bill of health in 2014. Stabenow authored the GLRI in 2010 and is leading the bipartisan effort to stop proposals to eliminate funding for the Initiative next year.

Deer Lake was one of 14 “Areas of Concern” in Michigan that were identified in the 1980s by the United States and Canadian governments as having severe, long-term environmental problems. Since the establishment of the GLRI, two Areas of Concern in Michigan have been given a clean bill of health or “de-listed” – Deer Lake and White Lake.  The Partridge Creek Diversion Project, completed in 2013, received $14 million through GLRI and stopped the flow of mercury into Deer Lake that made fish unsafe to eat and harmed bald eagle populations. 

“One in five Michigan jobs are tied to water. It is more important than ever to continue investing in the health of our Great Lakes and waterways,” said Senator Stabenow, Co-Chair of the bipartisan Senate Great Lakes Task Force. “This successful project is an excellent example of how Great Lakes funding helped Deer Lake get a clean bill of help so more Michigan families and visitors enjoy fishing once again.”

“The Partridge Creek Diversion Project was a tremendous blessing to this community,” said Mark Slown, City Manager of Ishpeming. “In the process of delisting the Deer Lake Area of Concern (AOC) and associated environmental problems, significant infrastructure problems for the City of Ishpeming were also resolved.  New storm water drainage and associated street reconstruction have helped revitalize our downtown. Thanks to a great team effort from Federal, State, County, and City officials, and from local residents who were advocating for improvements, many people will benefit from this project for decades to come.”

“Senator Stabenow played an important role in getting funding for the Partridge Creek project which helped eliminate Deer Lake as an area of concern and was the first site in Michigan delisted by the EPA,” said Gerry Corkin, Marquette County Board Chairman. “The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is important to Marquette County and this project is a positive result.”

According to the University Research Corridor, more than 700,000 Michigan jobs, one in five in the state, are tied to water. GLRI is critical to cleaning up our Great Lakes, beaches, and waterways for swimming, boating, and fishing; fighting invasive species like Asian carp, and protecting our Michigan way of life. Michigan projects have received more than $600 million in funding from the GLRI since its establishment. Michigan has an estimated 2,850 miles of coastal water trails as well as an estimated 1,280 miles of inland water trails. Our canoe and kayak industry annually contributes $140 million to our state’s economy.

Partridge Creek/Deer Lake Background

Partridge Creek is a small tributary that feeds into Deer Lake. Prior to the diversion project, the creek flowed through the New York pit mine (east of the City of Ishpeming) gathering mercury that then would be deposited in Deer Lake. The Partridge Creek diversion project re-routed the flow of Partridge Creek away from the mine and back to the historic streambeds through the City of Ishpeming.

In 2010, the City of Ishpeming received $14 million through GLRI in two grants (matched by $700,000 from the City). The first phase of the project was completed in 2012 and the second was completed in 2013.

Great Lakes Aquatic Connectivity and Infrastructure Program

 In addition to leading the effort in the Senate on fully funding the GLRI, Senator Stabenow is also championing legislation to protect and restore our recreational fisheries. In June, she introduced the Great Lakes Aquatic Connectivity and Infrastructure Program Act (S. 1332) to improve Great Lakes fisheries and encourage habitat restoration by repairing and replacing aging dams, culverts, and roads.  There are thousands of these structures across the Great Lakes Basin that currently inhibit the movement of fish populations. Great Lakes states and tribal governments will be able to recommend grant projects to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to expand fish access to waterways and work to prevent the spread of invasive species when addressing aging infrastructure.

 

Flood Assistance for Michigan Families – August 7, 2017

Marquette, MIAugust 7, 2017 – Stabenow, Peters Commend Federal Action on Flood Assistance for Michigan Families

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters today commended the approval of a major disaster declaration for the State of Michigan providing assistance to families following severe flooding that affected Bay, Gladwin, Isabella, and Midland Counties. The four counties have declared states of emergency, and the damage from the flooding is estimated to be over $100 million.

“Michigan families are resilient,” said Senator Stabenow. “Today’s declaration will provide critical federal support to help families whose homes were damaged get back on their feet.”

“This is an important step to set the affected counties on a path to recovery,” said Senator Peters. “This much-needed assistance will help ensure that mid-Michigan families who have been hurt by the recent flooding will be able to able to rebuild.”

Earlier this month, Senators Stabenow and Peters and a bipartisan group of Michigan House members urged President Trump to approve Governor Snyder’s request for a disaster declaration. This request came after federal, state, and local officials conducted a Joint Preliminary Damage Assessment in the counties affected and determined that federal assistance was needed. Senators Stabenow and Peters have also urged Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to expedite the process for assessing crop loss and damage for Michigan farmers impacted by the flood.

Residents and businesses can begin applying for assistance tomorrow by visiting www.DisasterAssistance.gov or calling 1-800-621-3362. The number will be in operation from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm seven days a week until further notice.