Michigan requires its leaders to think outside of the box in order to effectively deal with the problems our state experiences. The Michigan Service Corps is just one such outside the box idea. The Michigan Service Corps is a forward thinking work for reward program that mixes government assistance and personal responsibility. This program is a potential national first and could lead to a drastic decrease in Michigan's unemployed.
A program like the Michigan Service Corps would see thousands of motivated civic minded citizens work together with local businesses and organizations that would better our state's communities. Michigan Service Corpsmen/women would help beautify their communities, teach our state's students, repair and restore our state's crumbling infrastructure. This innovative program would see thousands of Michiganders put to work as well as help thousands more realize their college dreams through a reward system based on the work done by the individual.
Michigan needs common-sense policy that helps make Michigan residents and our state more prosperous. Below is my specific plan for the Michigan Service Corps.
Michigan Service Corps
Moving Michigan Forward Act
Hello fellow Michiganders, I wanted to take the time today to present you with an innovative program that would be the first of its kind in the nation. The recent past has not been kind to Michigan; we’ve seen a massive outsourcing of jobs, businesses, and families. We’ve seen poverty increase and our great cities decline. The Michigan of the future demands new and comprehensive ideas to combat our State’s unique problems. The Moving Michigan Forward Act intends to combat these issues by instilling in our citizen’s the value of service to our great state and rewarding them with opportunities to better themselves and their economic status.
The Moving Michigan Forward Act (MMFA) intends to set the groundwork for the Michigan Service Corps (MSC). The Michigan Service Corps is a first of its kind of program in the nation. The MSC would be a state government program that would bring together service minded, unemployed, college/non-college bound citizen volunteers and put them to work for the betterment of our state. The MMFA would designate five different areas of possible service.
1) Public Works
The MMFA would set up an online database and signup procedure in which Michiganders can sign up to volunteer their time and service in one of the four service areas. In addition the Act would implement a rewards program for completion of 3 different service terms. The first term would be a 6 month term of service. The second would be one full year, with the third being two full years of service. The 6 month and one year term of service could result in one of two different rewards. The first reward an individual could choose is being paid a minimum wage ($9.25 an hour effective on Jan. 1st 2018) throughout his/her term of service ending upon completion or ending when the participant disengages from the program. The second reward would be the earning of college credit or tuition assistance to an in-state school. The third reward would be reserved for the 2 year term of service only, and would include the earning of a minimum wage as well as the completion of an associate’s degree in the respective service area or tuition assistance to an in-state college of their choice. It would be up to the individual to provide a complete record of service with signatures of his/her supervisors in order to get any reward.
Once a Michigander has decided to sign up to serve in the MSC and has chosen a service area and a term of service online they can get to work. The MSC at this point would connect them with private corporations or organizations working within the service areas and within the individual’s residence area. These corporations would then attach MSC men/women to team members working on specific contracts that better the community. Then the MSC men/women would work alongside and with the corporation’s workers on these contracts until completion of the project or completion of the service term.
Now each service area would entail different participating organizations or corporations.
For example an individual choosing the public works service area would be attached to a construction, plumbing, road commission, water treatment, public health departments, among other public works organizations and businesses.
Someone in the Education service area would be attached to struggling school districts in which an individual could be assigned as a teaching assistant to a teacher in an underperforming school. Or they could be attached to different test proctoring companies, etc.
Anyone in the poverty service area would be attached to local food kitchens, food drives, benefit education in poverty stricken areas, habitat for humanity, beautifying projects, as well as community organization etc.
An individual in the apprenticeship service area could be attached to local corporations such as construction, plumbing, welding, nurses, hospital staff, IT specialists, cable companies, etc. and would learn the specific trade they are shadowing.
A person participating in the environmental service area would be connected to conservation groups, attached to DNR agents, attached to park rangers, etc.
Now at this point all this might be confusing so below I’ll give some example scenarios.
Jake is an unemployed father of 2 with no college education. He lives in the City of Lansing and has desperately been trying to find a job within Lansing. He goes to the MSC webpage and signs up for a 1 year term of service in the public works service area. He also chooses to receive a minimum wage as the reward for his service. The MSC then gives his name and contact info to a participating construction company that is working on public works contracts within the city. Jake then gets contacted by the company and given a start time and location. Jake shows up at this time and location and gets attached to a corporate worker. He gets the necessary training and equipment and helps the corporate workers on their daily duties until the job is complete or his one year term is over.
Lindsey is a 19 year old who’s aspiring to go to college however needs some assistance in paying for it. She decides to join the MSC and enlists on a 6 month term of service. She decides to get college assistance as her reward. She chooses to do her service in the education service area since she wants to be a teacher. She gets assigned to a teacher in a nearby struggling country school. She works closely with the teacher and students in an effort to increase performance, attendance, and learning. After she presents her records and proof of service to the MSC she then sends the MSC her acceptance letter and proof of intent to go to that college. She then receives college tuition assistance in the form of grants given to her by the state.
Trevone is a young man aspiring to be a local businessman and the first in his family to go to college. He sees an ad for the MSC and decides it’s his opportunity. He signs up and decides to serve in the apprenticeship service area. He chooses to do a two year term of service. He gets put in contact with a local mechanic who takes him in and shows him the trade as well as the administrative side of the industry. Once Trevone’s two year service is over he receives an associate’s degree in business/management. After his term he uses the minimum wage he earned as well as his knowledge to found his own mechanic shop across town.
Some of you might be wondering as to why any company would waste its money and time on accepting MSC men/women. Well that’s because the MMFA would allow for the allotment of a number of tax credits to small and big businesses as long as they participate fully in this program. In addition the positive public relations from helping locals better themselves while doing their jobs would be an added benefit.
How do we pay for this program, with a multi-pronged approach. The MMFA would increase corporate taxes by repealing Gov. Snyder’s 2011 corporate tax rates. In addition the MMFA would allow additional tax credits to businesses who donate money and materials to be used by MSC and its participating private organizations. The corporations participating would earn a small tax credit for each employee employed via the MSC. The corporation would then have the option to use these credits to reduce their taxes for the year or not. This means the more a corporation participates and works with the MSC the more they’ll save on their taxes.
*Note to Readers:
This idea is in its infancy as of now. I believe a program like this has the potential to change our state forever. It is my belief that government’s role is to provide equal opportunities to everyone, as opposed to equal outcomes. This program is by no means a welfare program; it is a work for reward service program. Working through the MSC would help thousands of Michiganders out of poverty as well as give them the tools to better themselves and advance their economic and social status. In addition to helping themselves MSCorpsman/women would be working to improve their local communities. I believe that this program could transform Michigan’s cities by putting people there to work and by improving the infrastructure, education, and community organization and cohesiveness as well as improving our small towns. Michigan has been at the forefront of progressive politics since its inception, it’s time to shake up the status quo and move our state forward.