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Together we can
do better!

Dan O'Neil's Stance on Key Issues:

Education

Michigan’s education system now ranks a dismal 42nd in the country- and is declining. Other states have drastically improved academic achievement by restructuring their school funding system, expanding free public education from pre-school through college, and expanding technical and trade schools. We must take prompt, bold, action to reform our state’s education system if we hope to provide opportunity for our children and a vibrant economy for the state. I believe in:

  • More money for schools. With budget shortfalls from the pandemic, some people are suggesting cutting as much as 25% from our school budgets. I will make protecting school funding a priority.
  • Expanding career and technical training. Many employers in Grand Traverse County can’t find skilled, specialized staff to fill positions. I will help community colleges and job training programs work directly with local companies to build a more competitive workforce in northern Michigan.
  • Reforming testing. Our current education system tells teachers to ‘teach the test’ to the detriment of students and teachers. I will prioritize real learning outcomes and career readiness, not test scores.
  • Expanded early childhood education. Oklahoma expanded their early childhood education programs in 1998 – and the results are astonishing. Kids with just that one extra year of school have higher test scores, they’re less likely to drop out, and they have fewer disciplinary problems than those without.

Healthcare

Healthcare in Michigan costs more, covers fewer, and has worse outcomes than most of the developed world. Our state is a powerhouse of innovation and self-reliance: we can do better than this. Each of us has a right to high-quality, affordable healthcare. We must work to lower costs, improve outcomes, improve access for working families, and expand Medicaid to cover those in need. And we absolutely must protect people with pre-existing conditions.

We also need to lower prescription drug costs. In the last five years, prescription drug prices have gone up at five times the rate of inflation. Part of the problem is drug companies aren’t required to provide any transparency into why they’re raising prices. We need to bring sunshine into the process, and we need to increase market competition in the drug market to drive down prices.

Mental Health

We need to treat mental illness like any other illness. More than half of Michiganders who have insurance can’t afford mental health treatment. Michigan needs to require insurers to cover depression and substance abuse the same way they do any other illness and we need to back that requirement up with constant monitoring and enforcement.

The state needs to invest in encouraging and training the next generation of behavioral health counselors and addiction specialists. And we need to encourage more graduates from our state university system’s medical schools to stay in Michigan and practice here.

Environment

Clean air to breathe, clean water to enjoy, and a stable climate in which to thrive are the birthright of Michigan’s children, and are the foundation of our economy. Grand Traverse County is blessed with incomparable natural resources; our representative should be the state’s leading voice for the environment. That means leading us towards a renewable energy economy. It also means shutting down Line 5. This aging oil pipeline on the bed of Lake Michigan in the Straits of Mackinac poses an unreasonable risk to our economy and our way of life.

I’m proud to be endorsed by Clean Water Action, the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters. Conservationists stand with my campaign because they know I’ll do everything I can to preserve our lakes and public lands for the next generation.

Gun Violence  

I support the Second Amendment. However, as an attorney, I know that nothing in the Second Amendment prevents the adoption of reasonable measures to protect ourselves and our children from gun violence, including vigorous background checks, mandated training and certification, and prohibiting the sale of weapons to people who have a demonstrated disregard for public safety.

Reproductive Rights

I believe we must protect women’s access to reproductive health care and the right to make choices about that care. Decisions regarding healthcare belong to women and their doctors. I support Planned Parenthood and its critical role in providing affordable healthcare to Michiganders.

LGBTQ/Civil Rights

No person should suffer discrimination because of who they are, yet Michigan provides no legal protection to our LGBTQ citizens.  We must immediately amend or our state civil rights act to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. I’m proud to say I helped campaign for the anti-discrimination ordinance passed in Traverse City a decade ago. It’s time the rest of the state caught up.

Affordable Housing

Most state housing programs are designed to help urban communities. These don’t work well here. Our communities need the active assistance of the state in addressing the specific issues that underly the shortage of affordable housing here in Northern Michigan. One key to this is raising household incomes: improving education, assisting displaced workers, and providing interim supports like paid family leave and childcare subsidies are all proven to do just that. These are areas I can’t wait to address. We must also embrace land use policies that promote a mix of housing types in our communities.

COVID

We are in the midst of an extraordinary public-health challenge, and it calls for an extraordinary response in terms of public assistance, education, and investment in our communities.

So many Michiganders have already lost so much in this pandemic- I want to make sure that it doesn’t also cause widespread foreclosures, massive run-ups of individual debt, and huge cuts in essentials like education: the quickest way to turn this crisis into a catastrophe is to let kids and families get so far behind they’ll never be able to catch up.

If there was ever a time to use Michigan’s billion-dollar rainy day fund, I believe this is it. We tapped about $350 million for the recently announced budget deal. We should use additional funds to help businesses access credit, create job training programs for folks who lost their jobs, provide relief for the unemployed, and invest aggressively in appropriate economic development projects.

School Openings

We know that teaching kids virtually is no substitute for the classroom. But we are also faced with a public-health challenge unique in our lifetimes. Balancing education and safety requires a careful analysis of facts, a willingness to listen to stakeholders, and clear leadership. We must hope for the best but prepare for the likelihood that COVID-19 cases will emerge in our schools, and we must be ready for that eventuality. We must, for example, ensure that all kids have access to the Internet- and to the hardware they’ll need to keep learning.

Veterans

Our veterans have served our state and our nation. We have a duty to repay the favor. This means, for example, assisting veterans in getting private sector employment, giving veterans preference in securing government contracts, and ensuring high levels of care and facilities at veterans’ homes across the state.

Jobs and Economy

40% of working families in our region struggle to afford their basic needs-- housing, food, transportation and childcare. This is unacceptable. Our state legislature must work with the business community to assure sure that all employees have access to affordable childcare and paid family leave, and that companies can afford to provide their employees fair wages with benefits. We must also invest in infrastructure such as high-speed fiber and better roads to support our business community and attract new companies that can offer high paying jobs with benefits.

Money in Politics

A tiny minority of citizens make substantial contributions to political campaigns. Studies prove that public policy is distorted in favor of those funders.  As a result, government tends to serve the interests of a narrow segment of society with the means to purchase influence. We must fight to reduce the influence of money in our elections.  We should begin by requiring full disclosure of all contributions including those of corporations and political action committees (PACs). I believe money corrupts our political process and distorts public policy in favor of the funders.

Roads/Infrastructure

Each year we dump six billion gallons of raw sewage into the Great Lakes because we have failed to make adequate investments in our existing treatment systems.  We must make immediate and significant investments in our roads and other infrastructure to protect the environment, support working families and build the foundation for Michigan’s economy. Fairness requires that all Michigan citizens pay their fair share to fund this investment. I oppose current proposals that place the burden of road repair on the shoulders of working families.

Paid for by Friends of Dan O'Neil, PO Box 954, Traverse City MI 49685