LANSING, Mich. — Senator Vincent Gregory (D–Lathrup Village) has issued the following statement after yesterday’s testimony before the Joint Senate and House Oversight and Veterans, Military Affairs and Homeland Security Committees on the Auditor General’s report of the Grand Rapids Veterans Home.

“The sad litany we’ve heard today confirms that, once again, efforts to cut costs through outsourcing of government’s work and other means doesn’t save money. All too often it just hurts the people we are charged with serving. In many cases, privatization and other cost-cutting measures have actually resulted in higher costs, most notably in the Flint water disaster.

“This focus on cutting costs has too often been paired with a lack of response from the administration to reports of crisis. It is a continuing pattern. In too many cases, it has taken months of public outcry and repeated media reports before any significant remedial action has been taken by the state.

“We saw it vividly with the images of rat droppings, maggots, rotting food, food shortages and drug smuggling by a contractor hired to replace state-run food services in our prisons. We’ve seen it with the abject failure of a for-profit charter school system in Muskegon Heights, and widespread abuses of public tax dollars by other for-profit charter operators. It is the legacy of the Flint water crisis. Now we are seeing it again with the mismanagement of the Grand Rapids Veterans Home.

“In the name of trimming costs and maximizing profits, the contractor at the Home has failed our veterans. By entrusting them to run that facility, we — as a state — have failed our veterans.

“The short-staffing, falsified reports, inadequate internal controls and chronic lack of management oversight were conscious money-saving decisions on the part of the J2S group. To cut costs, the company laid off 150 state employees. That business decision, driven by the desire to maximize profit, endangered the health and safety of men and women who have given so much to their country.

“The reality is that business and government have different missions. Businesses, at their core, exist to generate profit for their owners. The mission of government is far different — something explained best in the founding document of our nation — the Declaration of Independence:

‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men … ’

“Thomas Jefferson didn’t write anything in there about corporate profits.

“The Detroit Free Press recently published an editorial challenging what is called ‘Another Outsourcing Disaster.’ That editorial concludes with this admonition:

‘… there’s nothing wrong with ensuring that government uses tax dollars effectively, delivering the best value to the people who trust, and rely, on its care. But that’s the caveat: as with any governing philosophy, it had better work.’

“When will the champions of privatization in Michigan admit that thus far, it has not?

“Privatization is not a panacea. All too often it is simply an abrogation of our duty to the people.”

Sen. Vincent Gregory is a Marine and Vietnam Veteran, as well as the lead Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee. He was elected to the Michigan State Senate in 2010 where he represents citizens of the 11th District located in Oakland County that includes the cities of Farmington, Farmington Hills, Ferndale, Hazel Park, Huntington Woods, Lathrup Village, Madison Heights, Oak Park, Pleasant Ridge, Southfield, and Royal Oak Township.

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