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I find it interesting that as the Michigan Senate & House meet today for the first session of 2013, I hear a lot of the same talk that I heard two years ago as we met for the first time. I heard Speaker of the House Jase Bolger and Governor Snyder talk of working together, of bi-partisanship and of finding common ground on the solutions Michigan’s families need to get our state back on track.

While I, and thousands upon thousands of families across Michigan, want to believe them this time around, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out to them that their actions have spoken far louder than their words.

Let’s be very clear about this: They ran the most divisive and partisan agenda that Michigan families have ever seen over the past 2 years.  It was an agenda that started off by raising taxes on working families and seniors, moved on to stealing more than $2 billion from our children’s education and their future, waged a war on women throughout 2012 and culminated at the end of the year by trampling on the very foundations of our Democratic process by jamming through an extremist’s dream agenda that will do absolutely nothing to create a single job or better the lives of the working people of Michigan.

So while I appreciate the words I’m hearing today about working together, it’s time for Speaker Bolger and Governor Snyder to not just talk the talk, but to walk the walk.

As MIRS news reported while the legislature was away for the holidays, the 2011-2012 session was the most partisan legislative session in recent memory.  A session that began with Republicans promising to allow good legislation to be voted on regardless of which party it came from turned into one in which only 8% of the nearly 1,000 bills passed over the past two years came from my Democratic colleagues.  

We have put forward plans that would revitalize our economy, put money back in the pockets of middle-class families, create jobs and move Michigan to the head of the class in our K-12 Schools and higher education system.  These are bills that economists, educators, parents and students all agree are the right plan to truly move our state forward, yet Republicans haven’t allowed an honest and full debate on them not because they aren’t worthy, but because they’ve found them politically inconvenient.

But, as I am prone to say, I’m an optimist, and I begin 2013 with a renewed hope that when I hear the talk of bipartisanship here today, that they'll actually mean it this time around.  Their actions over the past two years have not inspired confidence or trust from the people of Michigan, but the next two years can be used to rebuild that.

I sincerely hope that we can work together on a new agenda that puts people first for a change.  My colleagues and I stand ready.  What happens next is up to them.

Michigan Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer
Gretchen Whitmer
Michigan Senate Democratic Leader

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