As our state’s legislators work ahead on priorities for the year, Michigan’s new Speaker of the House Joe Tate sat down with leaders and investors of the West Michigan Policy Forum to discuss the important topics that should take precedence at the capitol this year.
Speaker Tate, Michigan’s first Black Speaker of the House of Representatives, first assumed a legislative position in January 2019 and serves in appropriations with a focus on local economic developments. He represents Michigan’s 2nd House District, a diverse community that covers part of Detroit’s Lower East Side, Grosse Pointe Park, Grosse Pointe, and Grosse Pointe Farms. He comes from a family of service; his mother was a public school teacher, and his father a firefighter for the Detroit Fire Department who tragically lost his life while on duty. Speaker Tate served in the U.S. Marines, following a career in football playing for Michigan State University and for three teams in the National Football League.
The discussion began under the pretense that everyone wants to move the state forward, with Speaker Tate listing the following priorities: supporting working families, creating strong safe communities, developing and implementing a world-class education system, and investing in our future. The conversation dove into legislative topics that currently bear the most weight for Michiganders: right-to-work laws, education, and economic development.
Speaker Tate, who was not part of the legislature when right-to-work was passed, briefed his opinion on the topic as an issue of fairness, stating that he sees both sides of the issue, but feels that those who benefit from unionization should have some sort of “skin in the game.” Speaker Tate assured that right-to-work is on the table and being deliberated without a timeline currently in place.
As for education, leaders asked Speaker Tate to acknowledge that we’re falling behind other states and agreed that there needs to be an accountability measure in place within schools to help ensure our students succeed. He also pointed to a need for more funding for great start readiness, pre-kindergarten programs, affordable childcare, accessibility, and overall investments in more resources.
Finally, Speaker Tate alluded to the inflection point between the automotive industry and the transition to electric vehicles as a way to drive economic growth, but honed in on the need to invest in affordable housing and communities to bring strong talent to Michigan.
The conversation concluded with the common sentiment: Michigan needs better laws that will promise success for our students and our state’s economic prosperity. Speaker Tate agreed to be open to further discussions with the WMPF and its business leaders in advance of laws being on the table.
Contact your local legislator and tell them to voice your concerns and defend our shared priorities.