Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Democratic House Candidates Shine in Livingston Debate

The following is a guest post from Livingston County's Communications Guru.

The Livingston County Press & Argus sponsored a debate on Tuesday, Sept. 25th, at Cleary University featuring candidates for the Michigan House from Livingston County’s 47th District and the new 42nd District.

Unfortunately, this will be the only debate now that Livingston County no longer has a League of Women Voters chapter. Shawn Lowe Desai, the Democratic Candidate for 47th District was the clear winner over the Republican incumbent. He was knowledgeable, energetic and framed his arguments well.

I thought it was a tie between Shanda Willis, the Democratic candidate for the 42nd District and incumbent Republican Bill Rogers; at least until near the end of the 60 minute debate. I have known and respected Mr. Rogers since he was on the Livingston Board of Commissioners, but I was disappointed and shocked at his take on Proposal 2 on collective bargining and the Governor’s veto of the three voter suppression bills in July. His spin on the worst two-year budget in Michigan was short on facts, but there is a big difference between lies and spin.

Mr. Rogers claimed his office got a call from a unionized police officer who said he heard Prop 2 would shrink their ability to collective barging by eliminating binding arbitration, and his office confirmed it was true. That is simply not true. He also has no idea how a union forms or he is misrepresenting it. He should be aware that workers can fire a union and decertify a union at any time with a simple majority.

His most egregious claim came when he was asked what action the Governor took that he was most disappointed over. He said it was the Governor’s decision to veto Senate Bills 754 and 803 and House Bill 5061 that were part of a package aimed at suppressing the vote that most disappointed him. He claimed the Governor vetoed bills that won unanimous support. That is, again, not true. All three bills were hotly contested, and the bill that got the most support only passed by a vote of 67-43.

The two-year budget cycle has led to an unprecedented tax shift from business to individuals; specifically the middle class. The change in the business resulted in a $1.8 billion business tax cut. On the other hand, the changes to the individual income tax resulted in a tax increase of $1.7 billion. The elimination of most all of the tax’s credits and deductions and taxing pensions will resulted in a net tax increase for individuals. Funding for K-12 education was reduced by more than $800 million, reflected primarily in a $470 per pupil cut in the foundation allowance, and funding for Michigan’s universities saw a 15 percent reduction in the first year Republicans controlled the House. The current budget restored what amounts to an increase of $100 in the foundation grant, but $470 minus $100 is still a cut.

That one reason a recent poll last week for the Detroit News and WDIV-TV showed voters want Democrats to take over the House in November. The poll showed generic Democratic candidates outpacing generic GOP ones by 13 points. However, with gerrymandering that does not mean Democrats will take over the House.

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