Category: Your Voice Written by Stacy Swimp
Michigan, January 16, 2013- Michigan Governor, Rick Snyder, delivered his 3rd State of the State Address, accentuating the economic condition and direction of the State of Michigan.
After sharing a moving story about his visit to Kuwait and giving thanks to our men and women in the military, Governor Snyder began his speech by inquiring: “How is the economy?”
He then shared qualitative and quantitative results, highlighting some of the outcomes of his administration’s policies;
• Michigan has the 6th fastest growing economy in the nation
• Agribusiness has seen sugar and wheat experience record production
• In the Auto industry, 2.5 million units have been assembled In Michigan
• Tourism has netted a half Billion dollar increase
• The personal income growth in Michigan is the 9th fastest in the nation
• Michigan has gained 177,000 jobs since 2009
• There has been a 10 percent increase in home sales in Michigan
State Representative, Mike Shirkey (R-Jackson, MI) weighed in on the accomplishments highlighted by Governor Snyder:
“With his leadership we have transitioned from getting our balance sheet in order thru making Michigan more attractive to long term, sustained business investment. Now it's time to focus on making Michigan more attractive to "families and ALL taxpayers"....and that's exactly what he laid out tonight in his State of the State.”
Governor Snyder suggested several Reforms that will help Michigan continue to head in the right direction.
• Personal Property Tax Reform
• Unemployment Reform
• Regulatory Reform (There are 10 rules eliminate for every rule created in Michigan)
• Tort Reform (Snyder said Michigan has the best such reform in the nation)
Represent Shirkey, elaborating on Snyder’s speech:
"I continue to be encouraged with Governor Snyder's commitment to take on tough, long standing issues without retreat. He is not afraid to step up and face current realities despite opposing inertia of status quo advocates. We have some tough hurdles yet to overcome. But if we stay focused on reinventing Michigan's future we will find the strength and fortitude to overcome politics."
Governor Snyder articulated his commitment to build a bridge: “We are moving on with the bridge.” said Snyder, standing by his promise that the bridge will not involve any tax dollars.
Snyder spoke of a Regional Transit Authority (RTA) which he says will drastically improve transportation in Metro Detroit.
Developing and cultivating trust relationships in struggling Michigan communities and leading by example appears to be very important to the Governor.
An initiative his administration created, which addresses the above-stated, is called: “Pathway to Potential”, where government employees are encouraged to leave government offices and spend their time working in Flint, Detroit, and Saginaw, Michigan.
“It is important to go to the customers and show them success”. Snyder said.
Snyder continued to emphasize, throughout his speech, the economic progress of the State of Michigan, explaining how Michigan had experienced 44 years of economic downturn prior to his administration.
However, not everyone was as impressed as the Governor might have hoped for.
Scott Hagerstrom, Executive Director of Americans for Prosperity-Michigan, called into question some of Governor Snyder’s narrative:
"Governor Snyder's Keynesian solutions of higher taxes are not welcome news for struggling Michigan families. As Governor Snyder noted, 1965 was a high-water mark for the Michigan economy. What Snyder fails to recognize is Michigan's implementation of the state income tax in the late 1960s was a primary reason for our economic decline. Michigan is competing with nine states that do not tax work. This is why Louisiana and Nebraska Governors are looking to eliminate their state income tax."
Hagerstrom concluded: "While AFP-MI applauds the Governor for his support of Workplace Freedom legislation in December, it is time to surpass other states through additional groundbreaking reform for Michigan - the elimination of the state income tax."
Governor Snyder offered a bleak analysis of Michigan’s educational system.
• Only 17 percent of the State are college graduates
• 60 percent of the students in local community colleges are taking remedial classes because they are not college ready
The E.A.A. (Education Achievement Authority of Michigan - Education Achievement System) is a part of Snyder’s solution to gradually fixing Michigan’s broken education system.
The longer school year, Individualized learning centers and “no grade system” of the E.A.A. appears to be making great progress within the pilot programs Governor Snyder has created in urban communities.
Snyder was noticeably excited when he announced the creation of a new agency which has been created to focus solely upon assisting Military veterans with finding gainful employment, particularly in skill trades
Skill trades are an issue the Governor expressed as among his priorities. He noted how Michigan has numerous jobs in skill trades that are available, but are not being filled.
Governor Snyder has, throughout his administration, been vigilant in working to remove barriers to skill trade jobs being filled by Michigan residents. Banning the discriminatory, anti-open merit shop labor policy, Project Labor Agreements, is one the steps he has taken.
Unfortunately, Labor Unions have not been supportive of the Governor’s efforts to help create a level playing field where all Michigan skill trade workers have an opportunity to work, union and non-union alike.
Michigan’s Republican National Committeeman and former State Rep., Dave Agenda, had the following to say about the Governor’s speech:
“The Governor and the legislature have done an outstanding job of making Michigan a better place to do business, which helps job creation. However, the breakdown of the family in our state has caused crime and entitlement dependency which must also be addressed.”
“As a conservative”, Agema added, “I'd prefer to see a prioritization of all spending before any taxes, fines or fees are raised. Moreover, I would like to see necessary changes in our laws to prevent illegal immigration and foreign laws from entering into our courts, causing our citizens to lose their constitutional rights from trans-national judges. We must defend our constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic. Thus far, we have not done so.”
Overall, Governor Snyder focused strictly upon the gains of the State, praising those who have played a significant role in those gains, concluding his speech by promoting a bipartisan message:
“We must work hard to find common ground where we can work together’.
Last Updated on Thursday, 17 January 2013 11:13
Category: Your Voice Written by Mark S. Lee
In the late hours of New Year’s 2013, the House approved a deal which helped the country from going over the “fiscal cliff.” The House voted 257-167 to approve the business, meaning 98% of U.S. taxpayers will not see tax increases while extending unemployment benefits. Additionally, a sweeping round of tax increases and government spending cuts were avoided — for the time being.
In other words, the Bush-era tax cuts will remain in effect permanently and will now become part of the United States tax code.
Conversely, the top 2%, individuals and families earning over $400,000 and $450,000 will see tax increases.
Bottom line: This will help generate revenue to fund various federal programs in the future.
However, this sets up another political showdown in March. This new “March Madness” debate will focus on spending cuts and on raising the nation’s limit on borrowing.
In other words, potentially debating the debt ceiling crisis — or, essentially, how much the government can borrow to fund federal programs.
With this as a backdrop, how does the deal approved last week affect entrepreneurs or small business owners?
According to the Washington Post, it appears the deal will garner mixed reactions from the small business community. The paper states various compromises as part of the package will most likely include stipulations generally to assist and potentially hinder entreprenuers, depending on your situation.
The paper cites critical measures which will most likely impact start-ups and/or small businesses:
• Overall Taxes: If you’re a small business with a pass-through income of over $450,000 and $400,000 for families or individuals, respectively, expect your tax rates to increase. With income levels less than those amounts, don’t expect an increase.
• R&D Investment: Tax credits were extended and reinstated retroactively for 2012, As an employer, you qualify for tax breaks ranging from 6 percent and 14 percent of the businesses R&D expenditures.
• Section 179 continued: According to the Post, “…Congress renewed for another year the maximum deduction levels for bonus depreciation and Section 179, which give tax breaks to businesses that purchase or lease software and equipment — both provide a boost for small employers planning to invest back into their firms in 2013”.
• The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC): Tax incentives for firms that hire widely underemployed groups like youths and veterans will be extended and you can expect breaks for renewable energy technologies and retail/restaurant improvements, which were extended through 2013.
• Payroll taxes increased: Expect payroll taxes to increase to 6.2 percent—up from percent for all Americans. The lawmakers in Washington did not address this issue as part of the recently negotiated deal. Economists warned the move could cripple consumer spending — a bad sign for small businesses who have already been complaining of low customer demand.
• Capital gains rates increased: While dividend rates didn’t tick up nearly as much as the White House had hoped, capital gains and dividends did slightly increase to 20 percent for high-income earners, which entrepreneurship advocates fear could deter some investments in new and growing firms.
The bottom line is if you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner, you’re encouraged to stay on top of this deal and do your research. Do your due diligence and try to understand, as much as possible, potential implications to your business.
Additionally, I encourage you to review and, where appropriate, adjust your short term and longer term business plan, including your financials. This will enable you to manage your business in an effective manner.
Again, this is a critical piece of legislation and I encourage you to stay on top of this developing story.
Last Updated on Monday, 14 January 2013 10:05
Category: Your Voice Written by Zack Burgess, Chronicle Senior Writer
You start with the burned out buildings. You have to start here, because at one time the homes were apart of what made Detroit great. You stand in the middle of Woodward Avenue, surrounded by what used to be, not knowing what to say or how to feel. You try to catalog your feelings, try to capture the sight and emotions in words. Yet it’s hard. After all, Detroit is home.
No matter where I go or where I have been on this earth the past 27 years since I left home, I am proud to say: “I’m from Detroit.”
So when I see what’s going on with former Mayor of Detroit Kwame Kilpatrick and the kind of attention his transgressions has brought to a city already in trouble, I can’t help but look at the television set, read the blogs and shake my head in disgust.
I know it’s hard to believe, but at one time the city was living proof of American success. At one time it was the most prosperous manufacturing city in the nation. At one time it was the fourth largest city, now 18th and tumbling. Unfortunately, the city has become a beacon of disaster. The school system is in disarray, the murder rate is out of control. And unemployment is at an all-time high. Needless to say – I just want to cry.
Given the current climate and Kilpatrick’s inability to just go away, many would love to blame Detroit’s demise on the former mayor. But Detroit’s decline started well before he took office.
It was the two-decade rule of former Mayor Coleman young, who became Detroit’s first Black mayor in 1973, who ruined the city. Young governed more by grandiloquence, than by action. Under his watch, the city took on a life of its own. The school system began to deteriorate. And jobs disappeared. This was not Kilpatrick’s fault.
If Kilpatrick is guilty of anything, it’s arrogance and lack of common sense. Yet for some reason, I still don’t get the feeling that he gets it. And while he is still loved in Detroit, as throngs of former classmates, called and demanded I write a positive story about him.
You see, the consensus is that he was brought down for cheating on his wife; therefor it’s none of our business. No gang, Kwame was brought down for lying under oath. He broke the law. And that is our business. It’s just that simple.
“It’s not because he lied,” said Chanae Forte via Facebook. “He should have been a grown ass man and said "yeah I did it but that is between me and my wife y’all stay the out of it!!!”
I have to agree with her. And while I would love to believe that Kilpatrick has some regrets, which I think he does. He
continues to amaze me. First there was the lavish lifestyle the first time he got of prison. He had to know he would be watched. Didn’t he? And now there’s the $2,000 gift from a Chicago pastor before Christmas, cashing out the wire transfer at a Chesterfield Township Walmart. He counted the money in front of the cameras. Unbelievable!
Facts aren't distorted in his book, Surrendered, The Rise, Fall and Revelation of Kwame Kilpatrick, they're simply missing. He never talks about how he is paying for his lawyers and publicity aides. Keep in mind, he doesn't have a job? And how did he manage to live such a lavish lifestyle in Texas when he owed $1 million in restitution?
His cleaned-up version of his affair with Christine Beatty is for his wife to forgive. Ultimately, what goes on between a man and his wife is their business, but Kilpatrick still refuses to acknowledge his role in Detroit's fall — even if it is the image drubbing the city took as a result of him.
I do believe Detroit will make a comeback. It’s just too special of city not to. But for too long we have looked the other way in the midst of chaos when it comes to the city’s politicians. At some point the madness has got to stop.
As much as I want to give Kilpatrick the benefit of the doubt, because even today I am proud of him, because I understand we all make mistakes. But sadly, he will go away.
Last Updated on Monday, 14 January 2013 08:27
Category: Your Voice Written by Eddie Connor
For many of us, 2012 was filled with highs and lows, ups and downs...but in spite of it
all, youʼre still here! This is the time when everybody makes resolutions and promises to
themselves, of what they will or wonʼt do. However by February or March, itʼs back to
the same old way of doing things.
A new year with the same old mindset means the same old you. A new year, should
birth a new mentality that brings about new opportunities in 2013. This is the time to
take inventory and make changes. We have to realize that things wonʼt just change in
our lives because the calendar changes. We must take responsibility for our lives, work
to rid ourselves of bad habits, and become a better quality person.
Here are 13 action steps, to put you on the path of purpose in 2013. Letʼs walk it out!
1. Develop a stronger relationship with God.
This is the main factor in dictating how your 2013 will start and end. God wants to do a
new thing in 2013, but you have to trust Him and follow His Word. This is the year that
God is working through you and not just for you. If you partner with Him, the blessings
and benefits are far greater than what you can imagine. This is your time to
breakthrough and break out!
2. Change your mindset.
A new you in a new year is only a result of a new mindset. Start thinking differently and
things will work out differently. Stop worrying, especially about things that are out of your
control. Free your mind from negative thinking and begin to think positive in every
situation. A changed year doesnʼt mean anything, if you have the same old mindset.
What youʼre thinking ultimately affects where youʼre going.
3. Let go of the past.
You won't live your best life until you let go of anger, bitterness, and strife. You canʼt
change the past, so why are your presently living in it? You have to let it go, in order to
grow. Donʼt beat yourself up over something you canʼt change. Itʼs over...get up and
move your life forward.
4. Grow and get better everyday.
In order to grow and get better you have to continually work to do it. There is no growth
without self-reflection and personal analysis. Self-development is key to your growth. In
this world of distractions itʼs important to take time to read, meditate, analyze your
goals, and think. Growth brings with it growing pains, because change is uncomfortable.
Sometimes it hurts to break away from bad habits and things you like to do, but know
they arenʼt any good for you. Itʼs either the pain of discipline or than the pain of
5. Maximize your purpose.
Live with purpose, live on purpose, and live for a purpose. If youʼre living without
purpose, youʼre just existing. You have a unique purpose that God placed inside of you,
what are you doing with it? Discover your gifts and talents and find out what youʼre good
at doing. The reason you are here is because youʼre unique, distinct, special, and there
is a purpose for your life. Donʼt let anybody demonize or minimize the gift that God has
placed inside of you to bless the world.
6. Develop your gifts and talents.
You are blessed with gifts and talents, but the tragedy is when you never use what
youʼve been given. You are a red box and gold bow...youʼre a gift to the world. You must
take personal inventory of your life and work your gift. How long will you procrastinate
on your purpose? Itʼs time to write the book, open the business, and develop your skill
set. No one is going to hand you anything, you have to work to attain what you desire.
Work your gifts!
7. Surround yourself with people who motivate you to be better.
If people that youʼre connected to arenʼt ADDING to your life, itʼs time to SUBTRACT
them from your life. Get away from people who drain you of your time, energy and
patience. There are some people in your life that you must bless and release. A better
you begins with surrounding yourself with a better crew of people. Get away from the
dream killers and people who only keep you in a place of negativity. Who youʼre
connected to, determines what youʼre directed to...disconnect yourself from negative
people and get connected to people who challenge you to be a better you.
8. Your health is your wealth.
You canʼt be good to anybody else until youʼre good to yourself. Your health is as
important as your relationships, goals, purpose, and dreams. Take better care of
yourself by developing an exercise regimen, getting proper rest, and eating nutritious
meals. Many of the diseases that people die from are stress and poor nutrition/exercise
related. You canʼt fully enjoy life, if your health is not a priority. Take time to take care of
9. Be a Goal-getter.
If you write out your goals you have a better chance of accomplishing them, because itʼs
a constant reminder to work towards a vision. GOals help you to go and propel yourself
forward, without them you lack direction. Goals are meaningless without a plan of
action. People donʼt plan to fail, they just fail to plan. Every single day you must wake up
and do things that push you closer to your goals...it all begins with your mindset.
10. Love and appreciate who you are.
Too many times we focus on our weaknesses and become so self-critical, that we
ignore the value that we have within. You canʼt expect anybody to love and appreciate
who you are, if you donʼt love and appreciate yourself first. You will eventually attract
who and what you are. The relationship will never work if your relationship with God and
your relationship with yourself, isnʼt developed first and foremost.
11. Focus more on what you can give, rather than what you can receive.
Giving always creates room for more. In this society of selfishness and selfaggrandizement
itʼs all about what you can get, by any means necessary. How many
clothes and shoes can you wear at one time? How many cars can you drive at one
time? Weʼve become so inundated by what we can consume that we donʼt take as
much time to invest, not just in ourselves, into the lives of others. What you can give
may not be monetary, but it can be giving your time...which is far greater than money.
Look around your community, every problem has a solution that you can provide. Take
time to improve your city, clean up your community, mentor our youth, and help
somebody in need. Thereʼs always a blessing in blessing other people.
12. Expect the great and anticipate greater.
The power of belief is what will unlock the door to opportunities this year. The faith you
have to look situations in the face and say, “in spite of what it looks like, I still believe”
will catapult you to the next level. As much as you expect, you also have to work
towards it...simply because faith without works is dead (James 2:17). Nothing is just
going to happen by osmosis or mystically, you have to activate your faith practically.
Work towards your vision, while believing that all things are possible.
13. Step into the winnerʼs circle.
Whether youʼre in the winnerʼs circle or not, depends on whoʼs in your circle. You are
who you hang around. You will either be a chicken or an eagle, a chump or a champion,
a worrier or a warrior...which will you choose? You canʼt be a whiner and a winner at the
same time! Take responsibility for your life by getting in the drivers seat and decide to
push on the path of your purpose and destiny. This is the time, this is the hour, and this
is a new year for a new YOU! More love, joy, success, and peace is ahead for you in
Last Updated on Monday, 14 January 2013 09:23
Category: Your Voice Written by Britney Spear
Yes, folks, the ‘D’ is silent. But that’s about the only thing one cannot hear amid the media buzz that surrounds Quentin Tarantino’s latest homage to arguably the darkest part of American history.
Everyone has something to say about the new film ‘Django Unchained’. Viewer opinion on the movie’s content is about as numerous and varied as are mouths making the claims. Whether surfing the message boards on your favorite gossip sites, browsing social media, or even watching the national news, spectators can agree on one thing: this movie has people talking. Yet, the conversation that surrounds this film might be the first of its kind. It is a fascinating tale that causes many of us to walk out of the theater not knowing ‘what’ to think.
Talk Show host Tavis Smiley has called ‘Django’ a spoof of American slavery. Others, most notably the movie’s cast and Director, argue that it is rather an ugly truth, and a glimpse at a reality otherwise eradicated from history books.
Are we so quick to dismiss the film’s main character as a mere figment of Tarantino’s wild imagination? Is Jamie Foxx’s on screen persona nothing more than a fabricated black superhero? Perhaps we must examine the untold stories of history to answer these questions. Certain American figures do exist to show us that characters like ‘Django’ might have been real at the time of slavery.
Calvin Candie [Leonardo DiCaprio] called Django ‘one of ten thousand’. That might be the case; but examples of slave rebellion are more frequent than recognized. Think of figures like Nat Turner and even their white counterparts like John Brown. If you do not know these names, look them up. While rarely known to many other than history buffs, their bravery and willingness to challenge a devastating status quo during the pre-Civil war era speaks to the possibility of a lesser known truth. Perhaps one that ‘Django’ seeks to uncover. No movie has even gone to such great lengths to showcase such a feat of radicalism. Yet, is it to be applauded or shunned?
Hardly anyone can agree on what the movie seeks to accomplish. Whether for pure entertainment and shock value, or to tell an untold story, one cannot deny that tongues won’t stop wagging about the film.
Fact or fiction? You decide. One thing is for sure: this historical tale is making ‘history’ at box offices across the country as it reawakens a discussion about a time that some of us would rather not remember while others can never forget.
Follow Britney Spear on Twitter @missbritneysp
Last Updated on Friday, 11 January 2013 09:24
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