by: Jase Bolger, Speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives
A response to the Detroit Free Press
The Free Press editorial from Oct. 18 and the Democrat opposition to reforms that the editorial defended are contradictory and attacks those applying the common sense the editorial claims to support. The editorial states, “No one would argue that people ought to be able to do drugs and collect unemployment benefits.” But it then calls for the ouster of legislators who are working to apply this belief.
Politicians aren’t paying for unemployment benefits, nor is some magic safe at the Capitol. The women and men of Michigan who get up early to pack lunches, work all day to do their job, struggle to balance their checkbook before reading to their kids in bed and fall asleep exhausted from a long day pay for these programs through their hard work.
These workers deserve better than being forced to pay for someone’s illegal drug use. This reform allows job providers to report if people are offered a job but are then unable to work because they tested positive on existing job screening drug tests. Unemployment benefits are designed to offer a hand to people who want to work but can’t find a job. Why should taxpayers be forced to send the money they worked hard to earn to people who are using illegal drugs instead of being available for work? Those taxpayers deserve better; they deserve a Michigan that works for Michigan’s workers.
If someone has a drug addiction, taxpayers do provide many assistance programs. In an effort to help addicts and protect taxpayers, recent changes have added more support for drug treatment, mental health services and mental health courts.
Through recent reform in the welfare drug testing bill, we fought for recovery, not punishment. People will not be kicked off of welfare after one failed test. Recipients who enroll in a drug treatment plan will continue receiving benefits. Their benefits are only reduced if they repeatedly abuse the generosity of taxpayers.
After many taxpayer reforms, jobs are returning to Michigan. In the past three years, more than 220,000 private-sector jobs have been created. But we still have a long way to go before we’ve replaced the more than 750,000 jobs lost during the last, lost decade under Democrat control.
To continue our economic recovery we must ensure taxpayer dollars are spent effectively and efficiently so that the cost to provide private-sector jobs in Michigan does not drive jobs away.
Without these common-sense reforms we risk draining the checkbooks of taxpayers and job providers leading to a return of the devastating pain in Michigan caused by overspending and job losses. Success in Michigan is not defined by having more people on more government programs. Real success is when working families can get ahead because of their hard work.