Where I Stand On Issues
The Economy and Jobs – Increasing the Focus on Small Business, Entrepreneurship
I understand the important contribution that small-business employers make to our state’s economy. An overwhelming majority of businesses in Michigan have fewer than 500 employees, but they employ more than half of the state’s workers.
I know that most new jobs in the future will have to come from small businesses in Michigan.
I have purchased or started eight different small businesses, creating hundreds of well-paying jobs and growing those businesses into some of America’s fastest-growing private companies. As governor, I will use my insight to help small businesses become more successful job creators and to also foster a start-up business culture in Michigan.
Finally, incomes for average Americans and Michigan residents have remained static for decades. Michigan ranks 35th among all states in per capita income. That must change – by increasing the number of Michigan students who receive post-high-school job training, and just as important, increasing the number of Michigan residents earning college degrees and vocational training.
While it is true that we have lost many jobs to trade agreements with other countries, we also need to acknowledge that some jobs have become redundant due to the growing use of robotics and automation. I will find creative approaches to economic development and job creation in a world where automation is replacing many of the well-paying jobs of the past.
It is also important to increase the minimum wage to $15. I want to increase incomes for all Michigan residents and the most effective way to accomplish that is to increase the minimum wage. No one who works full-time should live below the poverty line.
Restoring Michigan’s Infrastructure
Michigan has some of the worst roads and bridges in the country. Our water systems, as we have tragically seen in Flint, provide water that poisons people. Similarly, sewer systems that pollute our water and create sinkholes that are not easily or cheaply fixed. I know that we must make major investments in our state’s infrastructure, or it will cost much more in the future. As a scientist, these are the very kind of problems that I am much better prepared to solve than any of the other candidates running for governor.
Improving Education Quality and Funding, From Pre-School to College
Michigan’s educational system used to be the envy of the country, but it has shown a steady decline in recent years because of funding cuts to K-12 education and colleges. Charter schools, on the other hand, have seen a dramatic expansion, which has siphoned funding from public schools without improving education quality. I understand how important it will be to significantly increase funding for education, and to work for creative ways to restructure K-12 education so more money can be put into the classroom and less funding can be devoted to administrative costs.
With additional funding for Michigan colleges and universities, a college education will become more affordable, and young people won’t have to borrow the cost of their first house to get a degree. Michigan’s future economy will require more of the population having a college or vocational education to enable more of our people to get well-paying jobs.
Just a quarter of our state population has earned a four-year college degree, placing Michigan 36th in the nation. Compare that with Minnesota, which ranks 10th in the percentage of their population (33 percent), with a 4-year college degree. A key reason for that difference is that Minnesota spends $70 per capita, or 41 percent more, than Michigan on education.
Michigan must place a higher priority on providing high-quality technical job-training programs – not only in our community colleges, but also in high schools. This will increase the competitiveness of students who are not able to afford a college education, or those who are not interested in going to college. Michigan business leaders and education policymakers must do a better job of identifying those jobs that future employers will need so we can train our students to fill the higher paying positions that will become available.
Finally, I understand that the vast majority of brain development for children takes place when they are under five years old, so we must have a much greater focus on early childhood and preschool education.
Equal Rights, Equal Pay, LGBTQ Rights, and Eliminating Discrimination
I believe discrimination in any form for any reason is wrong. That’s why I am an adamant supporter of equal rights for all, including equal pay for equal work so that women are paid the same amount as men when they are performing the same jobs. I am also a strong supporter of LGBTQ rights, and more specifically, I favor amending the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include people who are part of the LGBTQ community. He would also include LGBTQ protections in Michigan’s Ethnic Intimidation Act, as well as inclusion in the equal protection and non-discrimination provisions of Article I, Section 2 of the Michigan Constitution.
Tougher Campaign Finance Laws, Lobbying Reform, and Transparency
The Citizens United case that allows unlimited corporate political contributions is bad for democracy. I believe it should be reversed with legislation or by amending the U.S. Constitution. No one should be able to hide the political contributions made or the money spent to influence public opinion about candidates and elections.
There should be limits placed on campaign contributions that can be made to candidates, political action committees and political parties, and more importantly, there should be complete disclosure of who makes campaign contributions and how much is given. Wealthy individuals should not have more of a voice or a greater influence on either the federal government or state government than average citizens. There should be limits placed on the activities of lobbyists in their ability to influence government officials and the policies that they pursue or act on.
I will propose a tough new set of ethics standards that will put citizens on equal footing with corporate lobbyists by increasing transparency in donations and lobbying, and prohibiting retired lawmakers from lobbying for five years. We will eliminate the corruption, fraud and waste and remove the influence of dark money in our politics and government.
Changing Our Flat Rate State Income Tax to a Graduated Income Tax
Michigan is only one of a handful of states that still has a flat-rate state income tax. Thirty-four states have some form of a graduated state income tax based on the ability to pay. People who have been successful enough in their professions or businesses to earn high incomes, should have to pay a fairer share.
Fighting Corruption, Fraud and Waste in State Government
Michigan residents have a right to know that the policy decisions made by their elected and appointed public officials are made to benefit to all citizens. There should be strict guidelines for public officials and legislators when it comes to conflicts of interests. As governor, I will act to eliminate public corruption at all levels of government so that all citizens will know that their government can be trusted to do the right thing on the issues that people want state government to address.
Providing for the Safety and Security of Michiganders
Everyone has a right to feel safe and secure in their communities, neighborhoods, and homes. There is still far too much crime in many areas of Michigan. A thriving state economy where everyone who wants a well-paying job can get one would go a long way toward reducing the financial motive for engaging in criminal activities, especially drug dealing. However, law enforcement agencies must still catch criminals and they should receive proper punishment and/or rehabilitation as needed to protect the public.
Violent criminals must always be prevented from endangering the public, but Michigan spends far too much on incarcerating non-violent criminals – much more than other states. Again, comparing Michigan with Minnesota in the area of corrections spending, Michigan spends $202 per capita on corrections, while Minnesota only spends $91 per capita. Minnesota spent $490 million of its $1 billion public safety budget on prison operations, while Michigan spent $2 billion of its $2.8 billion public safety budget on prison operations. Michigan can and should spend much less on prison operations by using alternative sentencing options for non-violent offenders.
For those in the grip of opioid and heroin addiction, and their families and communities, I promise we will devote resources to treatment and rehabilitation. We must address addiction more as a public-health issue than a law-enforcement issue.
The threat of terrorism is very real and we must do everything in our power to find creative ways to identify and apprehend anyone who would endanger the public. We must be as vigilant in pursuing home-grown threats from people who have become radicalized as we are with threats from foreign terrorist groups.
Putting Michigan First, a Fair Share of Federal Funding and Fair Trade
For too long, Michigan workers have been getting the short end of the stick when it comes to trade agreements and federal funding coming to Michigan. I believe in trade, but there must be an even playing field for America and Michigan to compete with other countries in trading our products. Michigan is still among the greatest producers of cars and trucks in the world, and we should have fair trade agreements with other countries. In order to receive the benefits of trade, other countries must protect the rights of workers, pay fair wages to their workers, protect human rights, and also do everything possible to not endanger the environment in the production of products.
Michigan must do a better job of getting a fair share of federal funding. President Trump has proposed in his budget to almost completely eliminate the funding for Great Lakes cleanup efforts. The Trump proposal should be dead on arrival in Congress, and any efforts to allow for drilling for oil in the Great Lakes must be stopped as well. We have the largest source of clean drinking water in the world, and it must be protected at all costs, including any efforts to divert water to other states.
We must put Michigan first in opposing the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Michigan has expanded the Medicaid program to increase health care coverage of its citizens. Any efforts to curtail that program, to eliminate coverage for pre-existing conditions, to establish lifetime limits of coverage for serious illnesses, or to increase premiums for older people or people who are sick, will be vigorously opposed, and I promise that whatever Washington does, we will ensure that all Michiganders can get affordable healthcare.
Eliminating the Right to Work Law and Fighting for the Rights of Unions
When Governor Snyder signed the right-to-work legislation into law in Michigan, it was a spiteful and unnecessary action intended to reduce the influence and impact of unions, if not destroy them altogether. Under this law, Michigan workers have the “right to work . . . for less”, even while incomes of the top 1% have been increasing dramatically.
Unions in America and Michigan helped to create the middle class. Efforts to weaken labor unions have directly resulted in reducing the income for middle-class workers. I want to turn that around and eliminate Michigan’s right-to-work law.
Ditching the law and strengthening labor unions in our state will have the very direct impact of increasing wages and benefits for a significant segment of Michigan workers. That, along with expanding education and job training so Michigan residents can compete for the well-paying jobs of the future will not only reestablish a middle class of workers, but it will enable incomes for everyone to grow in the future.