The most important issue facing West Michigan is creating new jobs and maintaining existing ones. During my time in the legislature, I have worked hard to create incentives and establish a tax structure that encourages investment in West Michigan.

I supported legislation that would accelerate the elimination of the Small Business Tax (SBT), which is a burdensome tax that discourages companies from expanding and hiring new workers. I have also introduced and passed legislation that will diversify Michigan's economy. The Agriculture Renaissance Zone Act that I introduced created ten new zones that have added 493 new jobs so far, including jobs at Diversified Natural Products in Ludington and Chase Farms in Walkerville. In addition, I helped create life sciences jobs here in West Michigan.

I will continue to work with local governments, local industries and my colleagues in Lansing to fight for new jobs. When our children grow up, they need to have opportunities here in West Michigan rather than building their futures elsewhere.

Michigan is blessed with spectacular lakes, waterways and natural areas. I have taken an active role in the cleanup of polluted sites, the fight against invasive species and the upgrading of the state's sewer systems to protect these beautiful fixtures for future generations.

As State Senator, I have authored and passed legislation that prohibits and creates criminal penalties for the possession of invasive species and that requires property owners with large water withdrawals to register with the state. I have also secured money for the repair of Hamlin Dam in Ludington, $3.7 million to cleanup the polluted Ruddiman Creek in Muskegon and funding for the remediation of White Lake's Tannery Bay. I have also included funding for the past 3 years to cleanup Little Black Creek; unfortunately, Governor Granholm has vetoed this money each time.

The protection of Michigan's environment is an important issue. Our environment is a selling point for the state and necessary for the everyday lives of the people of West Michigan.

As an educator for 28 years, I have devoted my life to the education of West Michigan's children. I know the importance of investing in our children by offering them a world-class education. I want the taxpayer's hard earned money going into our classrooms so our kids get the education they deserve and need to prepare them for the 21st Century economy.

Schools also need to be safe places for our children. I have authored legislation that requires background checks on school and daycare employees and bans sex offenders from working in our schools.

During my time in the legislature, I have voted to increase per-pupil spending by more than 20 percent. I also authored legislation that replaced the MEAP test with the ACT for the merit award exam. The merit award exam provides students with scholarship money for college, and I was proud to help establish this program as a member of the House.

West Michigan has always been diligent in investing in our children's future. I will continue to match that effort at the state level and support efforts that provide West Michigan's kids with the tools they need to be successful in college and the workforce.

As Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I understand the importance of agriculture to the state and West Michigan. Agriculture is the second leading industry in the state and has been a success story in Michigan's troubled economy.

I have worked hard with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to continue to expand and strengthen Michigan's agriculture industry. The ten additional Agriculture Renaissance Zones created by my legislation in 2003 have proven to be a strong economic tool that helped local businesses create hundreds of jobs in West Michigan.

I have also supported increased funding for the Michigan State University Extension and MSU Experiment Station, helped facilitate discussions between the industry and DEQ and created tax credits to train agriculture apprentices.

Although agriculture has been a bright spot for the state, more needs to be done. I will continue to work with everyone involved in agriculture to ensure agriculture remains a vital and growing aspect of Michigan's economy.


Phone: (231) 733-6400   •   Fax: (231) 733-9100


© 2006, Paid for by Friends of Gerald VanWoerkom, All Rights Reserved.
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