As a Legislative Director in the Michigan House of Representatives, Michael Sitkauskas spends a great deal of time working to pass policy. He has chosen to continue his education at Michigan State through the Master of Public Policy program. This allows him to add to his skill set while sharing his knowledge and experiences with others.
Mike majored in Economics at Central Michigan. Upon graduation, he began working in the mortgage industry, but was not fully satisfied with the work.
“I spent some time looking for a new job, and in that time I volunteered on a number of political campaigns,” he recounts. “I gained some new contacts, and eventually found an internship with the Michigan House of Representatives.”
Mike’s ingenuity and hard work have paid off. After two internships, he began working as a Communications Manager before transitioning to his current position.
“My main duty in the office is to craft legislation and move the legislation through the political process for my boss. When he sees something that could be changed in Michigan code, I work with a team of policy advisors and attorneys to write bills that will potentially change the law in a way that is legal and has the effect that we are aiming for. After the legislation has been written and introduced, I work with other staffers, Representatives, and Senators to ensure that the bill continues moving through all of the steps needed in order to become law.”
This past summer, Mike completed work that included changes to the Farmland and Open Space Preservation Act. This act allows farmers to take advantage of special tax credits, provided they agree to prevent development on their farmland.
“Unfortunately, these tax credits were taking up to 13 months to be returned to the farmers, so my boss introduced a bill that charges the Treasury interest if they’re late in getting the returns to farmers participating in the program.”
Mike sees his classmates in the MPP program as one of its most beneficial aspects. There is a diversity of backgrounds and viewpoints in each classroom, so he shares his experiences with students from all walks of life.
He easily sees how this benefits him in his professional life. Working in the legislature, Mike must seek advice and support from “across the aisle.” His exposure to differences in the classroom has strengthened communication and negotiation skills he uses every day.
“This allows me to craft and support quality policy positions intended to change Michigan for the better.”
Mike adds that he has been surprised by how much his job has led him to learn about a variety of new topics. His work with agricultural legislation, for example, caused him to continually learn more about farming and its challenges.
Mike is happy with his career as a staffer for elected officials here in Michigan. Describing his work as “rewarding”, Mike envisions a future in which he might staff for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. Mike hopes to eventually run for office himself, a possibility that is clearly within reach given his exceptional skills and experiences.