LANSING—Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, tonight issued the statement below following Governor Snyder’s State of the State address:
“I commend Governor Snyder for his attention to the public health crisis in Flint. As a father and a grandfather, I am dismayed by the failures that resulted in this crisis and the risk it poses to the children of this community. The families of Flint deserve our full attention and the Senate is ready to assist the Governor to address these concerns.
The crisis in Flint demonstrates a need for greater accountability and reforms to our state government systems. Bloated, unresponsive bureaucracy does not meet the needs of our citizens. Over the past few years the Senate Republicans have worked to improve state government, but clearly there is more work to be done. The citizens of Michigan deserve a responsive, competent team of employees and administrators that value accountability, safety and customer service above red tape.
The job of government at all levels is to respond to constituents. As the customer complaint window for state government, legislative offices hear from citizens day-in and day-out who need help navigating bureaucracy. The Senate Republicans are eager to pursue ways to improve state government and ensure safety and accountability for our citizens. Like many people throughout our state and the country, I look forward to hearing more about a solution for the people of Flint.
This year, the Senate is poised to tackle reform of our state’s largest school district. The children of Detroit have spent too much time in an education system that does not give them the tools necessary to be successful adults and citizens. The bottom line is, the families in Detroit and across Michigan deserve access to quality education choices.
The Senate, House, Governor, city leadership, elected officials, education professionals, community stakeholders, and parents must all share in the responsibility of reforming Detroit Public Schools. While the legislature can work to resolve the balance sheet, the active participation of the citizens and leaders of Detroit is critical to the long-term success of the students and the vitality of the city’s neighborhoods.
Detroit’s turnaround will be for not if the children of that great city do not graduate high school, are not prepared for learning at our universities and are not competitive in today’s job market.
The challenges in Detroit Public Schools are not entirely unique to that district. Many school districts are burdened by financial stress and a changing educational environment. My colleagues and I in the Senate will look more closely at potential reforms related to legacy costs. No student should be short-changed of dollars entering the classroom because of an unsustainable retirement system and mounting debt.
These major issues bring about larger questions about system failures. The Governor has not shied away from tackling the tough issues facing our state and his remarks tonight demonstrate accountability and forward action to help the citizens of Flint and Michigan.
The Senate Republicans are prepared for another year of working with the Governor, our colleagues in the House and members on the other side of the aisle to continue to improve Michigan and reform state government.”