Spinal Column: Michigan Senate sets ambitious agenda for 2015

KowallBy Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

The Michigan Senate Republicans recently announced some of their legislative goals for the next three months and beyond.

As a member of the caucus, I am happy with the priorities we chose. Senate Republicans will continue to focus on policies and reforms that encourage generations of Michiganders to work, live and raise families in our state.

Our goals are the goals of our constituents: We want to help stimulate job creation and growth, hold government accountable, improve education and promote policies that improve the quality of life for all Michiganders.

Our agenda includes short-term and long-term goals. Major issues such as repealing the prevailing wage and comprehensive energy reform are top priorities for our caucus but will require lengthy discussion and review. There are also a number of other significant issues that we intend to tackle in the first few months. I expect our short-term list to evolve and change as we achieve our goals.

Our priorities for the year fall into four main categories. The first is job creation and economic development. We aim to strengthen Michigan’s economy with policies that support job providers and foster economic growth. We plan to address current budget challenges and promote and support skilled and vocational training. We also will work to promote tax reform and individual tax relief.

A second category is government efficiency, transparency and reform. We will enact policies to help ensure financial accountability for all state departments and to make government work for all residents. This includes reforming the permitting process to end backlogs and delays, improving civil service and safeguarding personal property rights.

A third priority is education. We will pursue policies that ensure more dollars get to the classroom to help improve what matters most—student achievement and teacher effectiveness. This includes creating a reliable teacher and administrator evaluation tool and reforming truancy laws to increase attendance.

Our final category of priorities concerns quality of life. Senate Republicans will promote policies that focus on the safety, health and well-being of our residents, our communities and our natural resources. Our goals include exempting over-the-counter prescription drugs from the Use Tax and reforming auto no-fault laws and energy policy.

We have an ambitious agenda for 2015. My constituents and residents across Michigan deserve nothing less. I am looking forward to the year ahead.

This column first appeared in the Spinal Column newsweekly. Senator Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, is the Michigan Senate majority floor leader. He serves the residents of the 15th Senate District, representing western Oakland County.