LANSING — Two local high school students will travel to Lansing Wednesday to attend Gov. Rick Snyder’s inaugural State of the State address as guests of Sen. Phil Pavlov. Both students participated in Pavlov’s annual State of the State essay contest.
The contest winner, Lapeer East High School sophomore Ashley VanOoteghem, will accompany the senator to the House of Representatives to watch the governor’s address. Each elected official is allowed one guest to join them on the House floor.
Runner-up, Yale High School sophomore Drew Morgan will watch the speech from the balcony overlooking the House.
“I’m thrilled to welcome Ashley and Drew to their state Capitol for such a grand and important occasion,” said Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township. “I look forward to meeting these bright young people and talking with them about their ideas for making Michigan an even better place to live and work.”
Students participating in the contest were asked to write a 250-500 word essay detailing their vision to reinvent Michigan.
Editor’s note: The winning essay is below:
There are many ways Michigan could potentially be improved, but ideas are much easier said than done. I believe my ideas are both beneficial and accomplishable. It is no secret that Michigan has been in a recession for some time now. Michigan, and the United States as a whole, is entering a new era of governmental and economic reforms. We must use innovative and modern thinking to cope with the changing times. To bring Michigan back to its once booming status, I have two important areas of focus I believe will make a huge impact on our state; creating a positive image and empowering the people and businesses of Michigan.
Creating a positive and fresh image would not only help business, but would draw people to Michigan as well. Tourism is the first step to showing others what a wonderful place Michigan is to live or visit, and can also be a substantial revenue for those already residing in Michigan! The Pure Michigan campaign is on the right track, but the campaign’s focus is too broad. In my opinion, if the campaign’s focus were narrowed to the main attractions and festivals which bring the majority of tourists, smaller attractions would be discovered. Secondly, the general appearance of Michigan needs to be improved. Unfortunately, in times of recession, once heavily populated metropolitan and suburban areas are now abandoned. Reducing empty factories, homes, and buildings in these areas to create a more condensed and appropriate area of living would not only improve appearance, but save money as well!
The second area I believe we should really focus on is empowering our people and businesses. Many people in Michigan believe the government has too many restrictions. With high fees on successful businesses and building taxes, people don’t want to start a business in Michigan! They would just as soon begin their business in a state with less restrictions and a more encouraging business atmosphere. By reducing taxes and fees, businesses and people alike would begin to view Michigan as a more optimistic place to start their business. We need to implement a tax structure which encourages and stabilizes business growth. Another problem is unnecessary taxing of the people. Tourists who come to Michigan to boat or snowmobile find that there are usually large fees that accommodate those activities. This in turn discourages most tourists from being interested in moving or returning to Michigan. Some of the regulations on our citizens have also become a large issue. Yearly owners inspections are tedious. You must even pay a garage sale fee! We are taxing the very things that attract people to Michigan, and in turn, losing out on business and opportunity! We need to lower regulations and fees on the attractions that draw people to Michigan. We need to make the people of Michigan feel empowered again that Michigan can come out of this recession stronger and renewed. We need to re-ignite the drive in the citizens of Michigan to succeed and work together with the government and each other to rebuild our state!