FLINT – Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05) today announced that he will be introducing a comprehensive legislative package in Congress to help reduce violent crime by taking criminals off the street and addressing a lack of positive opportunities for youth, a systemic driver of violence.
“Together the bills I will introduce will help reduce crime in Flint, Saginaw and surrounding mid-Michigan communities and provide children with the tools they need to be successful,” Congressman Kildee said. “Kids who make it through high school and to their 20th birthday without taking the wrong path have a far greater chance to be productive citizens. Providing children with the safety and opportunity necessary to reach this critical age – as my legislation will do – will help keep them off the wrong path.”
Congressman Kildee introduced the three-bill package today at Pierce Elementary School in Flint. The announcement of the legislation comes after months of input that Congressman Kildee sought from local residents, law enforcement and public officials on how best to reduce violence and increase opportunity for mid-Michigan children.
One bill, the Help Communities Fight Violent Crime Act, would provide an additional $25 million a year in funding for the next five years for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to conduct surge programs in cities like Flint and Saginaw to get criminals off the street and root out violent crime. Like past surge operations, federal law enforcement would coordinate intelligence operations and provide additional personnel on-the-ground while partnering with local and state law enforcement officers. In 2012, the ATF conducted a similar program over the course of four months, which reduced Flint’s homicide rate by over 50 percent during the four-month period in which it was active.
A second bill, the Afterschool for America’s Children Act, would preserve current funding levels, currently at $1.15 billion annually, for afterschool programs in Bay City, Saginaw and Flint, as well as other cities across the nation. The bill would allow states greater flexibility for afterschool programs to offer students a wide array of extracurricular activities, including physical fitness, health education, art, music, STEM education and drug and violence prevention. These afterschool activities would be specifically designed to complement a child’s regular academic program. Multiple studies have shown that afterschool programs lead to higher grades, better school attendance and behavior.
“Our children have energy and ideas that need to be developed and nurtured so we can give them better opportunities in the future,” Congressman Kildee said. “Providing a safe afterschool environment will help provide opportunity for our kids and make communities like Flint, Saginaw and Bay City stronger.”
A third bill, the Empowering Youth Through Summer Employment Act, would provide an additional $100 million annually for five years for summer youth employment programs. Under the legislation, federal grants would be awarded to local-areas like Flint, Saginaw and Bay City to ensure that young adults have the opportunity in summer employment directly linked to academic or occupational learning. Similar programs have been previously funded under past administrations, including most recently President George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, however they have been funded at lower levels.
“Ensuring young adults can find summer employment means they will have the opportunity to develop the job skills necessary for a successful career,” Congressman Kildee said. “When kids have jobs, it gives them a constructive alternative to unproductive behavior in the summer when they are out of school and provides them with valuable life skills that they can use later on in life.”
The three bills will be formally introduced the next day Congress is in session, which currently is Tuesday, Feb. 25th.