U.S. Congressman Bill Huizenga | E-Newsletter

The Huizenga Huddle
October 4, 2018
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U.S. Congressman Bill Huizenga
The Huizenga Huddle: October 4, 2018

Tax Reform 2.0

Last week, the House passed and I strongly supported the Protecting Family and Small Business Tax Cuts Act. This legislation, also known as Tax Reform 2.0, made tax cuts permanent for middle class families and hardworking small business entrepreneurs across West Michigan.

An independent analysis by the Tax Foundation found that this tax reform package will create an additional 1.5 million jobs, increase GDP by 2.2% and boost wage growth. By making these important tax cuts permanent, we can chart a course of economic prosperity that lowers taxes and promotes small business growth and job creation in communities across West Michigan for generations to come.

How Tax Reform 2.0 Impacts West Michigan

In addition to permanently doubling the child tax credit and lowering tax rates for middle class families, this legislation builds on the preservation of the adoption tax credit by creating a new opportunity to help pay for the costs associated with welcoming a child into a home. It also expands education savings opportunities for families across West Michigan while also creating a new flex account to meet their individual needs.

Here are three examples of how West Michigan families will benefit from Tax Reform 2.o:

USA accounts. Creating a new Universal Savings Account (USA) to offer a fully
flexible savings tool that families can use any time that’s right for them.

Expanded 529 Education accounts. Building upon the improvements to education
savings accounts in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act by providing families with the
flexibility to also use their education savings to pay for apprenticeship fees to learn a
trade, cover the cost of home schooling, and help pay off student debt.

New Baby savings. Allowing families to access their own retirement accounts on a
penalty-free basis to use as they see fit when welcoming a new child into the family,
whether by birth or adoption. Families also have the ability to replenish these retirement
accounts in the future.

Ripped From The Headlines: Tax Reform Is Delivering 

Since passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act last December, our economy is growing at an impressive pace, wages are rising, and good-paying jobs are being created.  Here is a quick look at some of the headlines from across the nation talking about the economy. 

  • CNBC: Small business optimism surges, topping previous record under Reagan
  • Marketwatch: American manufacturers growing at fastest pace in 14 years, ISM finds
  • Fox Business: US workers see biggest pay, benefit increase in 10 years
  • Bloomberg: U.S. Consumer Confidence Unexpectedly Jumps to 18-Year High
The Great Lakes

There has been big news on the Great Lakes over the last few weeks. A new report published by the Great Lakes Commission found that on average, for every dollar invested by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) $3.35 of economic activity will be generated. This is major news.

I have successfully led multiple bipartisan efforts to fully fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. We have seen the positive impact this program has had on Muskegon, Holland, and communities across West Michigan. A healthy Great Lakes ecosystem generates more tourism, more economic opportunity, and more Made in Michigan memories. This latest study was evaluated by economists at the University of Michigan and provides critical evidence that restoring the ecological health of the Great Lakes and preventing invasive species from entering the lakes will strengthen our economy and help future generations enjoy these incredible resources. 

In August, I was honored to be recognized by The Nature Conservancy in Michigan for my bipartisan efforts to protect the Great Lakes, fully fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), and combat the spread of invasive species. Thank you to the Nature Conservancy for being an active part of the effort to preserve the Great Lakes and stop Asian carp!

On September 17th, I visited the Outdoor Discovery Center to see the impact of the GLRI first-hand. This particular project is helping restore wetlands, reduce flooding, and stop harmful runoff from flowing into rivers, Lake Macatawa, and even Lake Michigan.

There was also major news in Washington regarding Great Lakes infrastructure. 
When I began the bipartisan effort to restore the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, only 47% of the funding designated for harbor maintenance was actually used for that purpose. Under the bipartisan action signed into law in September, 92% of the funds collected in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund will actually be used for dredging and harbor maintenance.

Specifically, this year’s appropriation includes maintenance funding for Grand Haven Harbor, Holland Harbor, and Ludington Harbor. Having our harbors along the Great Lakes properly dredged is vital to economic growth and job creation in West Michigan. With the enactment of this legislation, we take a very positive step toward fully funding this objective. 

Honoring Those Who Have Served

Our veterans put their lives on the line for this nation and we have a responsibility to make sure they have the best care available. On September 13th, I proudly supported bipartisan legislation that strengthens oversight and accountability at the VA while prioritizing resources for the MISSION Act, mental health care services, suicide prevention, opioid abuse prevention, and rural health care. 

Additionally, this much needed legislation also provides additional resources and reforms to help eliminate the claims processing backlog and improve results for veterans in West Michigan and across the nation.  While there is much more work to be done to improve the VA and the care our veterans receive, this legislation was another step in the right direction.

In August, I had the honor of presenting Keith Cole and Al Johnson each with a Congressional Gold Medal for their service to the nation as members of the Office of Strategic Service (OSS). The OSS was established during World War II and is considered the foundation of modern day intelligence operations. 

Hearing both Keith and Al share their stories seemed more like something out of a Jack Ryan novel, or perhaps a video game, or television show than what you might expect from two veterans from Hudsonville. Both Keith and Al are unsung heroes who served our country with distinction. 

Since the ceremony in August took place, I recently learned that Mr. Cole, picture above in the hat, passed away. My heart goes out to Keith's family whom I had gotten to know over these past few months. Keith was a wonderful person, who served his country with distinction. Every day we lose more of the men and women who answered the call and sacrificed so we could be free. If you see a veteran, be sure to say thank you. 

Across West Michigan

At the end of August, Lake County was hit by severe storms that included two confirmed tornadoes touching down. On September 1st, I traveled to Baldwin to see the damage first-hand, get an update from emergency personnel and speak with residents. Thank you to the first responders, volunteers, and members of the surrounding communities for helping our neighbors through this difficult time. We are so thankful that there were no lives lost from the storm.

About mid-September, I had the opportunity to visit Ottawa Area Intermediate School District’s Career Line Tech Center to discuss and observe the hands-on learning and training students receive. Whether students are learning a trade or a vocational skill, the Career Tech Center provides greater flexibility and a unique opportunity for students to be job-ready coming right out of high school or shortly there after. It was a great day speaking with instructors and students!

Last month I also toured Quality Tool and Stamping in Muskegon Heights. It's wonderful to see investment, job creation, and manufacturing come back strong across Muskegon County. The highly skilled manufacturing that is done at Quality Tool and Stamping was impressive. 

On September 18th, I joined a packed house at the Wyoming Kentwood Chamber for a legislative update on improving and funding the VA, rebuilding infrastructure across the Great Lakes, and reforming Dodd-Frank in a bipartisan manner. Additionally, I discussed how the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is delivering positive results for small businesses, middle class families, and hardworking individuals across West Michigan.

On September 20th, joined members of the Ottawa County Farm Bureau in Allendale to discuss the Farm Bill, immigration, Great Lakes infrastructure, and the economy. During the event I was honored to receive the “Friend of Farm Bureau” award for my record of supporting policies that empower West Michigan farmers.

On Saturday, I joined community leaders in Holland to celebrate the reopening of the Civic Center. This iconic building means so much to the community and with these upgrades,  a new generation of West Michigan residents will be able to enjoy all that it has to offer!

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