Millions of dollars more for school at-risk programs
Gary amended the School Aid Act in 2002 to change the formula for at-risk funding, for students who need some extra help and attention to succeed in school. As a higher-spending school district, Dearborn was getting half the amount per student than other districts getting aid under this provision.
Gary pushed hard for a couple years, and even had legislative leaders tour Dearborn schools to witness the needs first-hand, before succeeding in amending the formula to equalize per-student funding. The result: $2.5 million more for Dearborn schools – every year – to provide programs to help students who need help most.
In an editorial titled "Woronchak comes through in clutch for Dearborn schools," the Dearborn Times-Herald wrote: "Because of true determination and hard work, Woronchak managed to direct these funds to Dearborn for this year, and the next decade."
The increased at-risk funding continued until it was ended by Gov. Rick Snyder when he took office in 2011. In the less than 10 years the higher at-risk funding obtained by Gary was in place, Dearborn schools received $20 million more than they otherwise would have.
Standing up for working families
Gary was a leader in efforts to raise the maximum unemployment benefit to $362 per week in 2002, from the $300 at which it had been frozen since 1995.
He was also a key vote in defeating an attempt to institute a waiting week before benefits could be collected, and an attempt to deny the increase to the thousands who were unemployed at the time the bill was passed, making it just for those who would become jobless in the future.
The vote was held open for a record seven hours while Gary and a handful of other Republican state reps – standing up against their own party – were pressured to change their votes. But Gary held fast, and the negative provisions were abandoned.
He also has introduced legislation to raise unemployment payments for all workers, not just the top end, and was the primary co-sponsor of a bill in 2003 that enabled thousands of long-term unemployed workers to qualify for extended benefits under a state-federal program.
And, Gary's bill (Public Act 301 of 2000) doubled the special income tax exemption for unemployed workers if their benefits are 50 percent or more of their gross income.
State income tax cut; lowest in 30 years
Gary introduced one of the bills and was a co-sponsor of the entire package of legislation that reduced the state income tax rate from 4.4 to 3.9 percent, its lowest level in nearly three decades.
Legislation passed in 1999 set the tax cut in motion, lowering it by one-tenth of a percent each year for five years. The phase-down was completed July 1, 2004. The tax rate was subsequently raised after Gary was no longer in the Legislature.
Left-turn arrows on Michigan Avenue
Motorists driving on Michigan Avenue are making left turns more safely at two busy intersections because of a successful effort by Gary to have left-turn arrows installed on Michigan at Oakwood and on Michigan at Monroe.
The City of Dearborn had worked for two years to get approval from the Michigan Department of Transportation for the signals at several locations, but MDOT refused, stating the intersections failed to meet certain criteria. Gary held talks with MDOT officials and convinced them to agree to the two left-turn arrow lights as a pilot project to determine if they would improve traffic safety. Their value to motorist safety was clear and they were made permanent.
Gary's success in this matter was recognized by Mayor Michael Guido, who said: "We can all be grateful for Rep. Woronchak's help in getting this important traffic safety enhancement to become reality."
Accomplishments as State Rep
Effective leadership: Twenty-two bills that became law
Gary introduced 22 bills that become law, demonstrating his ability to work with members of both parties, during his six years in the state House.
His policy initiatives resulted in lower taxes for senior citizens, homeland security enhancements, protection for vulnerable adults, information for consumers making health care choices, help for families saving for college educations, and much more.
To read about his bills that have been approved by the Legislature and signed into law, click here.
Henry Ford Community College Distinguished Service Award (2004)
Liberty Bell Award from the Dearborn Bar Association (2007)
AAPAC (Arab American Political Action Committee) Community Service Award (2003)
Dearborn PTA Council Honorary Lifetime Member Award (2002)
Senior Alliance, Area Agency on Aging, Legislative Award (2002)
Alzheimer's Association Detroit Area Chapter Public Policy Award (2001)