Chuck Stokes (CS): Good evening and welcome to this final live debate between Governor Jennifer Granholm, the Democratic incumbent, and Dick DeVos, the Republican challenger. To the candidates, thank you very much for coming this evening. I know you’ve been crisscrossing the state, but welcome back to Detroit – better known these days as – what, audience? Tiger Town. Yeah.
Jennifer M. Granholm (JMG): Whoo hoo!
CS: Joining us for this debate are WZZM TV in Grand Rapids, WJRT in Flint, WLNS in Lansing, WWTV and WWUP TV in northern Michigan. This debate is also being simulcast on the Internet, and a network of radio stations from Marquette to Monroe.
The format for this debate is as follows: the candidate receiving the initial question will have a two minute response, the opposing candidate will have a one minute rebuttal, and if criticized, the original candidate gets an additional 30 seconds to respond. At the end of the debate, the candidates will have two minutes each for closing statements. Now, the middle lights means that you have 15 seconds left to respond, obviously the red light – like the streets – means it’s time to stop.
Joining me to question the candidates are two of Michigan’s best anchors: Steven Clark and Diana Lewis of Action News. Later in this broadcast, you will hear from the audience – undecided voters putting questions to our candidates – Governor Granholm and Mr. DeVos. All right? Let’s begin. Diana Lewis, your question, to Governor Granholm.
Diana Lewis (DL): Governor Granholm: From Michigan’s economy, unemployment, downsizing, and insurance concerns, the people of this state are facing some serious financial issues. In response to comments we’ve received here at Broadcast House, if you were only allowed to enact one piece of legislation, what would you do in order to affect the greatest possible change in this state?
JMG: Thank you, thank you to Channel 7 and particularly to the folks who came in today and if I had one piece of legislation to adopt I would adopt our 21st Century Jobs Fund. This is a $2 billion fund to invest in diversifying Michigan’s economy. We know that we are very tied to the automotive industry. We know we’ve got to enlarge our economy. And so this fund is more than any other state – and it is using tobacco settlement money – and it invests in four areas: the sciences, alternative energy, homeland security and defense, and advanced manufacturing. The first round of funding, which first occurred about a month ago, we awarded and got 61 companies to come to Michigan, grow in Michigan, and most importantly, hire people in Michigan in those areas of our economy, so I know we’ll be talking about more about that as we go forward this evening.
But before I go any further, I want to take a moment to address one concern right off the bat to my opponent. In this past week, my opponent Mr. Devos – and even yet this evening – has used the names and the images of school aged children who are deceased These images – he has used to create an unfounded political attack on me. Using these images to further his own political ambitions. Mr. Devos, if you have a beef with me, bring it on. I can take it. Use my name. But let’s leave the names of deceased children out of it. I hope we can talk about the future of the state of Michigan tonight, but if you’re determined to pick a fight, I hope you’ll pick on somebody your own size.
And I would ask and challenge you this evening not to use – either this evening or in the future in commercials – the images of dead children.
CS: Time, Governor. Mr. DeVos, your rebuttal?
Dick DeVos (DD): Well, thank you very much and thank you all…it’s good to be with you and, uh, I appreciate the opportunity. I believe the question was what would I adopt as legislation – I would adopt my economic plan. I would adopt the economic plan that I put forth that offers 134 specific ideas beginning with trade offices around the world – going from the one we have now to 10. I would adopt a plan where the Governor would take responsibility for economic development – I would adopt a plan that would transform our tax structures to stop punishing our employers and to stop doing the things we do to stop job creation.
My plan will get results – contrary to the results we’ve seen or the lack of results we’ve seen over the last four years. And the Governor talked about 61 grants…Governor, let’s be honest about it, 27 of those grants have gone to universities, only 18 have gone to commercialization…so only 18 have gone to making products and bringing products to market, the rest are really just research grants, so I think it’s fair that you should call it a research project, not a jobs project.
JMG: This is…
CS: Governor, do you have a rebuttal?
JMG: Yeah, I sure do, because this initiative will create jobs in areas that will not be outsourced. My opponent is somebody who has contributed to the problems in Michigan by supporting these free trade agreements and personally lobbying for them. What this initiative would do is create jobs for our children and our grandchildren that will not be outsourced. Yes, some go to universities to commercialize their ideas – put a good business plan to them, and to make sure that take root and grow in Michigan for our kids.
CS: Thank you very much. Next question, Steven Clark to Mr. DeVos.
Steven Clark (SC): Mr. DeVos, the Governor – throughout this campaign – has leveled much of the blame of Michigan’s problems on the Bush Administration. Last week, the Michigan Democrats began running an ad that morphs you into Mr. Bush. It’s a two-part question for you. First, is the characterization accurate, and second, the Democrats clearly intend the ad as an insult. Are you insulted?
DD: (Pauses)…To be compared to any President of the United States should never be an insult and, uh, so I certainly, uh, don’t accept that. The unfortunate news for the Governor and for those on the Democrat party who put this ad together is that the Governor’s not running against George Bush…the Governor is running against me. And the Governor is running against what is happening in the rest of the country. The rest of the country is doing whha…great. Five million new jobs have been created around the rest of the country. Five million new jobs, and yet in Michigan, we’re 85,000 jobs down. When this Governor took office, our unemployment rate was roughly equal to the national average…now, the unemployment rate is up 50 percent – well above the national average.
We’ve seen for the first time in Michigan, average incomes dip below the national average. We’ve continued to see underperformance as though somehow – I mean, the Governor continues to try and blame Washington as those somehow it’s Washington’s fault for what’s happening in Michigan when 49 other states are doing great. 49 other states are moving forward. 49 other states are adding jobs. And yet, Michigan is the only one lagging behind. It seems to me it’s time that the Governor accepts responsibility…accepts responsibility for being the Governor. Accepts responsibility for the environment here that is driving jobs away…for the lack of leadership that has not allowed for us to progress. For the kind of environment here that has punished job creation only to send our jobs to other places. Yes, there has been outsourcing in Michigan, Governor. 85,000 jobs have been outsourced. That under your administration – have been outsourced to other states – to other places. We can and must do better in Michigan.
CS: Governor Granholm, is there a rebuttal?
JMG: You’re darn tootin’ jobs have been outsourced. They’ve been outsourced because of these free trade agreements and a Bush Administration that is not standing up for our automotive sector. My opponent has been one of George Bush’s biggest financial backers and personally lobbied for the passage of these free trade agreements that have so devastated Michigan’s economy. My opponent says that we’re the only state in the country that is losing jobs. We are the only state in the country that is the automotive capital of the world. It is not rocket science as to why Michigan is uniquely challenged. When Ford and GM and Daimler Chrysler are challenged, we are challenged. When their suppliers are challenged, we are challenged. The automotive footprint in Michigan is enormous. When I got here to this job, 240,000 jobs had been lost by my predecessor, again because of this restructuring. It wasn’t his fault, again, Governors don’t negotiate trade agreements. Governors don’t force trade agreements. Governors don’t design vehicles. What we can do is set in motion an economic plan that is second to none, and that’s what I’ve done.
CS: Mr. DeVos?
DD: Certainly, 49 other states all operate under the same trade agreements. Every one. As a member of the United States, we operate under the same trade agreements, Governor, as the rest of the states. And they’ve been adding jobs. The job creation in America has been going very, very well. And yet in Michigan, somehow, we’re going backwards. The Governor is responsible. The Governor’s responsible for setting an atmosphere that creates jobs…that brings investment to this state and moves us forward.
CS: Thank you, Mr. DeVos. Mr. DeVos and Governor Granholm, we have received tons and tons of questions, almost too heavy for me to lift, I haven’t been working out that well. But if I could summarize this, and I’ll begin with you, Governor, I would summarize it this way: there are a number of citizens who voted for your four years ago who are reluctant to do so again because they believe you let them down and did not to all that you said you would do.
Conversely, many of them also believe that Mr. DeVos is trying to buy his way into the Governorship, and as one viewer, Adam Bonarick of Dearborn said, I don’t trust his motives. In the time that you have tonight, how will you convince voters to vote for you and give you four more years?
JMG: Thank you. I want to let the voters know, because they may not have heard of all of the pieces of this economic plan…nobody knows better than I do that we have to reshape Michigan for the future and so that’s why you need to know I’ve got short term goals, medium term and long-term strategies that will move Michigan forward. In the short term, I signed into law 84 tax cuts, including a $600 million tax cut for manufacturers to try to make us as competitive as we possibly can. We know that taxes aren’t the only reason why jobs are going to Mexico or China because, of course, job providers can pay 50 cents an hour in other countries. But we will do what we can do in Michigan. We have revolutionized workforce training…we’ve got more victims of this global economy that any other state in the country at the moment. People who’ve seen their jobs go on a slowboat to China or on the Internet to India, or on a fast track to Mexico. So we’ve put people in short term training programs in partnership with community colleges to train them for vacancies that exist…there are 92,000 vacancies in Michigan today – largely in areas that require certification.
Third, we are speeding up building projects all across this state – I’m sorry about the orange barrels…every barrel is a job. We’re taking 10 years worth of building projects and pulling them all into the next three construction seasons – putting 40,000 people to work. The 21st Century jobs fund that I described – as I said – is the biggest in the nation investing and diversifying an economy …it will create tens of thousands of jobs that will not be outsourced. And we are also upping our standards with respect to education. We can ensure now that we have set in motion and the Legislature signed into law – we are considered to have among the top three states in the nation for what we expect of our high school graduates – our goal is to double the number of college graduates. It is critical that you know this plan has been set in motion – there’s a health care piece, too. It’s also critical to realize how we got here. And we got here because of the challenges in this global economy. Challenges that were contributed to by my opponent.
CS: Mr. DeVos, can you answer Mr. Bonarick’s question? Are you trying to buy your way into the Governorship?
DD: Well, to suggest that, I think, is to suggest that the people of Michigan can be bought, which as a citizen of Michigan I would find insulting. The people of Michigan that I talk to are pretty darn independent. And uh, they want to hear from the candidates and they want to see who has a plan to get it done. And more importantly, they want to see results. And that’s the problem…that’s the problem that we have in this election…if the results had been there, I’m sure we’d be encouraging the re-election of this Governor. But there have not been results. We hear more about plans. We hear more about what’s going to happen the next four years and yet in the current four years, this sounds like, this sounds like the first election. And yet, four years have gone by and we have gone backward. And the country has gone forward. It is just unacceptable. Now, someone wants to talk about motives, uh, this is, uh, challenging time. Talk about motives. When, uh, when the Governor, uh, has some difficulty uh, some say, will, uh, say anything and do anything to win an election, according to the Detroit News.
CS: All right, Governor Granholm.
15:00 JG: Our auto economy has been 100 years in the making. It is true that you can’t flip a switch and transform it over night. Diversification takes a lot of work and a lot of effort. But, believe me, this economic plan that we have set in motion, we’ve planted these seeds, we’ve got a lot of work to do. But, even today, there was a study that was released that talked about the growth in our non-automotive sectors- in automation alley. Last week there was another study that said 55,000 jobs have been created in the non-automotive area- in areas that will diversify our economy- and enlarge our economy. That’s the good news for us. We know we’ve got work to do, but we’ve got a plan to be able to do it with.
15: 38 Chuck: Thank you Governor. Dianna Louis, your question to Governor Granholm.
15:40 DL: Mr. DeVos? Mr. DeVos, if you are elected Governor, of this State, do you think it’s time for Michigan to follow the lead of California, Florida, New York, Ontatio, Ireland and many other places in banning smoking in all bars, restaurants, and public places for the health of the citizens?
16:10 DD: We certainly want healthy…we want a healthy environment and a healthy community. But, no, I don’t support that initiative. I believe that the citizens of Michigan would like to be able to choose. Increasingly, citizens of Michigan are choosing smoke-free environments. And I think that’s a good thing. And I believe that that is going to ultimately result in a smoke-free community. Many communities themselves are..are going smoke-free- and again, that is their decision. But we’re seeing, right now, people making choices, making free choices, and that will lead us, I believe, ultimately, to a smoke free environment. Michigan is struggling in health. We have..uh…healthcare issues in this state, to be sure. And…uh…we have got to make some real progress on those areas. And…uh…certainly ..uh…I think the people of Michigan are moving forward in the direction of personal responsibility for that.
17:03 Chuck: Governor Granholm?
17:05 JG: This..uh…this…I very much support smoke free environments…and if a bill like that arrived at my desk, I would sign it. But I also think this is a moment to speak about our health plan for the state of Michigan as well. I have proposed a universal access to affordable healthcare plan, it’s called Michigan First! I’m in the final stages of negotiating with the federal government to be able to do bit of what they did in Massachusetts, if any of you saw that. They are providing universal access to affordable healthcare there. In partnership with the federal government, we’re going to do the same thing. For those who are at 300% of poverty and below…200% of poverty and below! We’re going to provide a no-frills benefit package that is subsidized by both the state and the federal government. For those who are above 200% of poverty, we’d offer the same benefit on a sliding scale, depending on income. This would all be administered by the private sector. The state would be a connector- connecting people to these plans. It’s very exciting. we want to show the nation how we can lead the way in providing health care because we need it. We are, as a nation, one of the only nations in the country that does not provide some assistance to business with respect to health care. We put the full burden on the business community and it makes us uncompetitive. Our automobiles now have sixteen hundred per vehicle embedded in those kind of costs. Now my opponent, I would challenge him to tell us what his his health care plan is cuz previously he has said that his health care plan is get a job.
CS: Time. Mr. DeVos?
DD: The governor has talked about a health care plan and after four years, there still is no plan, there still is no legislation, there still is no results, and in fact, fifty-three-thousand less people in Michigan have health care than when this governor took office—fifty-three-thousand less, not more. Once again, we’re going backwards. Once again, Michigan is not leading in the nation, Michigan is trailing in the nation.
DD: And once again, the Governor is promising what is going to happen in 4 years. But..uh…we haven’t seen results in the 4 years that have passed already. We can do better. We need results Governor.
Mod: Steven, your question to Governor Granholm.
Chuck: Governor, you and your opponent continue to debate the relative merits and evils of the single business tax. The…the truth of the matter is that it’s gone. And you do seem to agree, both of you, on the need to be replace at least a portion of that money. Keeping in mind that at 6%, Michigan sales tax is among lowest in the region, would you consider raising it to 7 or 8% or consider a tax on services?
JG: No, I would not. In fact, what I would like to see is a restructuring of the single business tax. And I have put a proposal on the table that replaces it- restructuring it as a business tax. I don’t want to shift business taxes to citizens, which is what raising the sales tax would do. But I would I would like to see is make sure that we do replace it. Right now today the revenue that we take in from the SBT is the lowest its ever been and that tax has been around for 30 years. It’s just structured in a poor way. But what I’ve proposed is to lower the rate to flatten the base to make it more profit sensitive, less sensitive to the full value of the business, compensate, simplify it, simplify it, simplify it. My replacement is called the Jobs Replacement Act, you can see it online. But make no mistake about would suggest that taxes are the reason potentially why businesses have chosen to leave Michigan. In the last debate I talked about a business called Electrolux in the first debate. And that company we offered it 0 taxes in order for it to stay. And it made refrigerators, and it decided to go to Mexico where it could pay a $1.57 because they could and it was much bigger profit than they’d be able to make even if they got zero taxes. So in this global economy its not taxes alone that make the difference. Now my opponent has suggested several things, I’m not sure exactly where he is today, but with respect to the SBT, I believe he says he wants to replace half of it. That means a billion dollars would be cut out of state government. And then he said last week that he would also replace a second tax on business on equipment which is another almost $2 billion, another $1.7 billion. And then he sid he wanted to replace almost all of it. I’m not exactly sure where he is, but if you leave a billion dollar hole in state government it will hurt citizens. It will hurt public safety, it will hurt public education, it will hurt the things we value like our quality of life. And health care for vulnerable citizens.
Mod: Alright we need to get to a quick break. When we get out of that break, we will pick up with Mr. DeVos.
DD: If the SBT doesn’t go away as this Governor has proposed replacing SBT with – guess what—SBT. What I’ve proposed is that we replace SBT with a gross receipts tax or a corporate profit tax. 45 states in the union have a corporate profit tax. They know what that is. Companies know how to deal with that. They can deal with that uncertainty. I’ve also said that we need to replace revenue for personal property tax and SBT. We’ve got to move this state forward with a tax structure that’s going to be pro-tax, pro-jobs, pro-Michigan workers. Not the other way around. This Governor vetoed eliminating the SBT, I’m the one who’s a bit confused about this reality. Michigan has a lot of work to do. Reforming our tax code is one of the things we must do. We cannot sit by and allow our jobs to go elsewhere because our Governor has not chosen to show leadership. Four years, said right four years ago, said SBT needs to go. Nothing’s happened.
Mod: Alright, thank you Mr. DeVos. Governor Granholm you get a thirty second response.
JMG: My opponent has says businesses should pay their fair share. But when he was CEO of Amway he incorporated his subsidiaries in Bermuda to avoid paying US taxes. That is certainly not paying his fair share. It is skirting, it is taking advantage of the Bermuda loop hole to avoid paying his fair share of American taxes which hurt the things that we value.
DD: Governor, you’re doing it again. You know that’s not true, and you’re doing it again. That’s disappointing.
Mod: We’ll build time in if you want to respond a little bit. We’re going to try to keep with the ? and you can always weave that in to your 2 minutes that you have.
We’re now halfway though our debate and it’s time to get to our audience questions. Seated among us are approximately 30 undecided voters from very diverse backgrounds. They’ve come prepared with a wide range of questions. These undecided voters have been screened and selected by independent pollster Tim Kisga. We also got significant help locating some of our audience members through our partnership with the Inforum, formally known as the Women’s Economic Club. This is the voter’s opportunity to speak directly to the candidates. The ground rules are the same and candidates we ask that you stay behind your podiums to answer the questions uh just to make sure because we have a little bit of a mic problem with Mr. DeVos
JG: I see, OK.
CS: and we don’t want, to make sure everyone can hear exactly what his answer is. OK, Steven Clark?
SC: OK, I’ll begin, is this uh a question for the Governor I believe from Christine Seacaw of Chesterfield Township if you could please uh stand up and uh ask your question loudly and clearly.
CS: OK, Hi. My husband and I we are both…
SC: I’m sorry, this is for Mr. DeVos I wanted to clarify.
CS: OK. My husband and I we are both lifelong Michigan residents. We’re the parents of three children and we’re long-time business owners in the community. Um financially our business is having its worst year ever. We are also watching our school systems struggle financially and we’ve become terrified of what the future holds for our family to stay in the state of Michigan. I would like both candidates to try to convince my family why we should stay. Thank you.
DD: Thank you Christine, thanks for being here. I hope your family does stay, but I certainly understand as a business person, one business person to another, I certainly understand the challenges that you’re facing here in Michigan and for uh you and uh for your children, a family business. I grew up in a family business too so uh so I appreciate too also how important that is to a family, but as as business owners uh the important thing to note is that change is possible and if we can keep going uh keep on going the way we’ve been going with a with a governor whose never worked in a business, who has never had to sign the front-side of a paycheck, whose never had to make a significant personal investment decision, whose never had to to do the kinds of things that you and I have had to do in the day to day conduct of our business uh the-the that governor, if that that governor is going to have to try to transform an economy in this state—I think you start off behind and that’s that’s why we have seen there’s there’s no results. Uh the governor does not have the experience to understand what it takes and that’s why we need to change. That’s why we need new leadership. If there’s ever a time in Michigan’s history when we needed a business person in the governor’s office; now is that time. Now’s the time to deal with the business issues that we’re facing, the jobs issues we’re facing, the family businesses that are struggling, transforming taxes, making it easier for you to do business, one-stop shopping with state government, a state government that works for you, not against you, regulations that are simple, clear and easy to understand so you know what you have to do to stay in the rules. That’s the kind of government that a DeVos administration is going to bring—one that understands the reality of job creation because when we do that, what happens? You you expand your business. You grow your business here and your small business just like my bus-my family business, which was small too, becomes a big business, becomes bigger and bigger and begins to add and expand and contribute to our communities. The truth is, if we don’t change, revenues are going down. Right now, in this state, we’ve seen tax revenues go down. We must change to be able to continue the way of life we love for those of us who have grown up here in Michigan.
CS: Thank you Mr. DeVos, Governor?
JG: It’s Christine? Christine, and what kind of business does your husband or you and your husband run?…(Mic delay)I’m sorry.
CS: It’s OK. It’s a plumbing company.
JG: A plumbing company alright and you’ve got three kids that are what ranges?
CS: We have one eight grade and two in high school.
JG: OK so I’m married to someone that’s a small business owners and I’ve got three kids—two in high school, one a little bit younger and um are you from here originally, are you from Michigan originally?
JG: Alright. So you know how magical this state is, you know how phenomenal this state is and you know that we are tied to the automotive industry. We are going through a restructuring right now, but we’re gonna be OK. We have set this economic plan in motion to truly transform the future of Michigan. I wanna make sure that your kids have jobs when they graduate and that my kids have jobs when they graduate in areas that will create jobs that won’t be outsourced. That’s why we’re speeding up all these infostructure projects and building projects to be able to provide work to those who are in the trades. But it’s also why we want to make sure that we diversify this economy…
JG: and up our standards for schools too. I’m sorry.
CS: That’s time.
CS: Thank you very much. Mr. DeVos do you have a response at all?
DD: Well Christine you know, once again, four years, it’s gotten worse hasn’t it? You just said that yours was the worst year in your business’ history.
DD: We’ve gotta do better. We can do better. It’s time for a change. Michigan has so much possibility, so much potential. We need you here, we want you here, we’ll keep you here.
CS: Thank you Mr DeVos. Diana, your question, from your audience member, to the governor.
DL:: Thank you. We have Rolla Dahur, of the University of MIchigan Dearborn. An undecided voter with a question for Governor Jennifer Granholm.
RD: My question is that experts universally agree that the best way to fix our economy is to invest in the educational system. While this looks good on paper, college students are paying incrteasingly high tuition every year, outpricing many potential students out of an education. This is partly due to a decrease in state funding. As governor, what do you plan to do about that in the next forut years?
JMG: Rolla, there is no doubt that we have to invest in our higher education sustem, make sure that we don’t see thses continued increades in tution. Our goal–we set a goal of doubling the number of College graduates over the next ten years. Because (and when I say college I mean either a university of a two year community college or a technical or vocatuional certification.) So I’ver asked the legislature to pass a $4000 scholarship for every single child in this state of Michigan. Every child. Regardless of whether they pass a standardized test or not. Because right now kids only get the Merit scholarship if they pass a standardized test. We want to essentially be the first state in the nation to pay for “K” through fourteen. Now, $4000 may not get you two years at U of M, but it is a significant step toward helping you out. And in fact it pays for the equivalent of two years of a community college. We got it through the senate, I’m expectign we are going to get it through the house. It’s also why we’e increased the standards for what we expect of our high school graduates, to furterh this effort of doubling the college graduates, of helping paents ot be able to afford sending kids to college. Now when I got in this chair, I inherited–you might remember this if anybody was payin’ attention–i inherited a $4 billion budget defecit from my predecessor, cumulatively. I’ve had to cut more out of state government than any governor in the history of Michigan. I’ve had to resolve more defecits than any governor ifn the history of Michigan. So it has been a tough four years in terms of trying to preserve the things that we value… and still keep college affordable, making sure that we have healthc care or our citizens.
There is no doubt about it: that if a tax scheme like the the one my opponent is suggesting goes through, where you cut another billion dollars out of state government, you’ll not only see tuition increase, but you will see people being let out of prison, you will see people being cut out of health care and you will see public education class sizes increase.
CS: Mister DeVos?
DD: Governor, you know that’s not the case, and you continue to perpetuate it. What I’ve talked about is getting jobs going in Michigan, so that when you get out of the University of Michgan Deaborn, you’re gonna have a job here in Michigan. And an opportunity. And that’s what we have to have. And the Governor hasn’t… you talk about tuition going up–you know how much it’s gone up actually? In the four years it’s up fifty percent. It’s going through the roof. And this Governor has talked abot it but done nothing about it. In fact, the Governor, for four year, four straight years, has tried to cut the Michigan Tuition Grant program to allow low-income students to be able to go to college. And this Governor’s tried to cut that program–4 years. That’s not back at the beginning, this is just this year. And so the governor is talking a good game once again–but the truth is, tuitions are too high, our kids are not getting the access to the colleges and universities they deserve, they need support and they need a Governor who’s not only gonna support education–which I will do–but also provide a job at the end.
CS: Governor, have you tried to cut that tuition grant program?
JMG: I’ve tried to roll all the scholarship programs into one, and increase, up the ante, put the Merit Scholarship on steroids by increasing it from $2500 to $4000 for every child in the state of Michigan. So it’s actually an increase, for all children, because it’s not contingent on whether they pass a standardized test. But I would like to know from my opponent how he expects he’s gonna cut another billion dollars from the state government and still increase the investment in higher education or increase the investment in making sure we…
CS: Time…. Alright. Steven Clark?
SC: Mr. Devos, I’d like to introduce you to Brian Berriger of Northville. Brian?
BB: Hi. To both candidates: the Canadian trash issue, as everyone knows, has gotten to such an extreme, and candidly, boggles my mind how it’s become an issue for us. Other states and other countries dumping their trash inside of our borders. My question is this: Yes or No, if elected, will you make it a top priority to eliminate Canadian trash and other states from dumping their trash within our borders and also if yes, in what period of time approximately, will you make it a priority to do so? Thank you.
DD: Thanks for asking.The answer is yes. Absolutely. And we’ve got to stop this practice of arbitrarily being forced to take trash that we don’t want and we certainly don’t need here in Michigan. We need to get a handle on this and we need to go to Washington to get something done. The Governor has actually run ads talking about how effective I’ve been in Washington getting things done for the people in Michigan. So I’m going to go to Washington and talk with Mike Rogers who’s actually been a leader on this particular issue to keep trash out and to allow us to protect our state and to be able to take what we want to take, and not what we don’t want to take. We need leadership in Washington, we need leadership in this state to get it done. There’s one way you can do it and that is to penalize Michigan citizens in the process and that is what I won’t do. I’m not going to penalize Michigan citizens by raising all of our prices and raising our costs of business here for all of our citizens for trash disposal in order to deal with this. There’s a way we can do it. We go to Washington, we get it done. We work with the legislature here in Michigan to make it happen. And we can protect our state. We must.
Mod: Mr. DeVos, the question was very specific in terms of a timetable. Is there a time limit that you want to put on that?
DD: Well, putting a time limit on Washington, Chuck, is pretty hard to do, but it will be a top priority to get it done. And we’ll put it right at the top of the pile.
Mod: Very good. Governor?
JG: He’s right that it has to be done in Washington. There’s something called the interstate commerce clause in the constitution. But there are things we can do inside of Michigan which I have proposed and supported in the legislature. One is to ban the expansion of new landfills becase if you build it they will come. But my opponent’s party refuses to put a pan on new landfills. I’ve also said let us raise the fees that it costs to dump into these landfills because if you raise the fees, it becomes less attractive. Right now we are among the cheapest places in the nation to do that. Once again what my opponent was just saying that he would be not in favor of doing that. If you want a disincentive to have others come in and make Michigan the dumping ground of North America, then let’s make a disincentive for it. Let’s raise the fees and put that toward recycling. Because recycling is an important way to reduce the amount of trash in our state as well. But I have a feeling he says he’s going to get it done? Mike Rogers hasn’t gotten it done. Debbie Stabenow got something done. She got an agreement with Canada to stop the municipal waste coming over.
Mod: Mr. DeVos?
DD: In four years this Governor hasn’t gotten it done either. We’ve got to do better. The Governor talks about recycling? Recycling is down in Michigan under this Governor’s leadership under this governor’s watch. In fact as we’re talking about keeping trash out, what the governor’s saying—what she’s really saying—is penalize the people of Michigan. Charge everyone in Michigan more in order to get this done. Substantially more. I don’t think that’s the answer. And I’m determined to work with Washington to find it, to protect Michigan and to get it done without penalizing the citizens of Michigan.
Mod: Alright, we have an e-mail question that I want to go to and right after that then we’ll go to Diana Lewis with her question, too.
Governor Granholm we’ve talked a little bit about higher education funding what we have not talked about is K-12. On the ballot will be proposal 5, legislation to establish mandatory school funding. There were several emails dealing this issue in one way or another. I’ll give you an example. Dave Pedros from Wyandotte, says its obvious that K12 public schools is in serious trouble and he wants to know what you’re going to do to solve the problem that retirement and health care insurance from organizations such as the MEA far exceed new revenue coming in. Amber Whitt of Grand Rapids wants to know whether or not addressing property tax as the primary revenue for that course of funding is going to continue or if you’re going to come up with something better. Governor Granholm that question is for you.
JMG: As we were saying before, there’s no doubt about it that education is going to be the way—one of the important ways—that we’re going to transform our future. We have to invest in the stuff between our ears. We have to invest in our human capital if we’re really to transform as a state. We are as a state unfortunately in the bottom third of states with respect to the numner of adults in our population that have had the priveledge of being able to get a college degree and if you look at the states that have the most robust economies, they’re the states with the most well-educated workforces. So this is why this year and last year the amount of money that we are investing in K-12 is at record levels. It’s record funding, this year and last year. In fact, because of that we have invested more in after-school tutoring in math and science because we want to make sure those middle-schoolers are prepared to take on the new high school standards that require them to take three years of math and four years of science. It’s why we’ve invested for an early childhood education as well, because education, of course, is a lifelong learning experience. There is no doubt that we can do more to make sure that we save as much as we can. And one of the ways I think will be helpful in saving will reduce the premiums for everybody in terms of health care is by my Michigan First health care initiative. Which would, because you are insuring those who are uninsured, and right now you’re subsidizing, if you have insurance you’re paying for those who are uninsured, because it’s not like they don’t get sick, but that would lower the premiums for everyone. There are other creative ways to make sure we reduce costs at the local level, but the bottom line is we don’t want to see a disinvestment in public education. And again, I would ask my opponent to address how he is going to possibly balance this budget, increase funding for higher education or any of the other things he says he wants to increase spending on, including K thru 12, when he’s cut another billion dollars from the budget. This is not Washington D.C. Two plus two in Lansing still equals four. We cannot print money. You have to balance the budget.
Stokes: Time. Mr. DeVos?
DD: It’s a grea-, it’s a great question and I didn’t hear the governor speak at all about Proposal 5. I thought that was part of the, the question in there that Proposal 5 was a part of that, a part of that… I have a position in opposition, I think it’s bad legislation. Well intended goal, but bad legislation. I know that was part of the question as well.
CS: That was part of the question. And when you respond, I’ll try to get the governor’s response on that answer.
DD: Thank you. The K-12 system is, is clearly suffering and struggling, and again, this Governor talks a good game. But this is the first governor in 20 years to cut K-12 spending. This gov- this governor, er, higher education, this governor’s higher education budget is less now, than it was when the governor took office. So I hear the conversation, I-I hear the talk about, about how important education is, and I couldn’t agree more as someone who’s been involved in education in this state for the last 15 years. I couldn’t agree more. But, uh, but our dropout rate is up, our school performance is down, and our funding, uh, it continues to be a problem because this economy’s not growing.
CS: Thank you Mr. DeVos. Governor, you have 30 seconds. Could you please talk about the proposal.
JG: You bet. I oppose Proposal 5. I agree with the intent. But here’s something that my opponent has again failed to address. He was the, uh, leader and funder of the voucher movement in Michigan which was resoundingly defeated. If you follow the voucher movement you take money away from public schools, invested in private schools, in religious schools. In fact, he says now, he’ll say again tonight I bet, that the voucher issue is dead. Well why then is he right now, investing in the voucher movement in seven other states? In fact after the voucher movement was defeated he came back to Michigan –
JG: -he came back and gave a speech to the Heritage Foundation, said he would bring it back to Michigan.
CS: Thank you very much. Maybe later on we’ll touch on this voucher thing . It goes back and forth a lot. Diana Lewis, your question for Mr. DeVos.
DL: Kristie Barrett of Birmingham, has a question on foreign automakers for Republican challenger Dick DeVos.
KB: In recent years, southern states have been quite successful in luring foreign automakers for manufacturing jobs. Part of the reason involves lower, uh, wages. Do you think the state’s union environment precludes us from attracting more manufacturing businesses, and if so, what can be done about it?
DD: Thank you Kristie. We have struggled, to attract automobile manufacturing, in fact, all the plants that have been built, none of them, with one exception over the last number of years, has been built in Michigan. They’ve all gone elsewhere. And unli-, uh, contrary to the common perception, the real reasons aren’t about, uh, they really aren’t about the issues of uh, of compensation. Uh, the workers in these plants, in many of these plants are making very comparable and very good wages. The differences have to do with the work environment, uh, the differences have to do with state policy. In Michigan we have a thing called personal property tax. What we do in Michigan, is if you buy equipment, you buy manufacturing equipment that you use to manufacture products…In Michigan, we say to you as a company, “Well, if you buy that, then every year we’re going to tax you on it.” So basically, we’re going to punish you for investing in the state. No other state in our region has personal property tax on manufacturing equipment. And so, it’s an addition to environment, that continues to discourage through taxes and other policies discourage people from coming here, manufacturing automobiles here. We’ve gotta make Michigan the place they wanna go to. We’ve gotta make Michigan the place where they want to invest, and be a part of this future. We need, we need to demonstrate that we can work together, union and management, in a brand new way, in order to send a clear message, Michigan is ready to go. This is the best place in the world to build automobiles. We’ve done it before, we know this business better than anybody. And we gotta get back in that business. It’s gonna require real change from somebody who really understands what real manufacturing is all about. That’s my background, that’s my experience, in that world. And so, I’m ready, I’d be ready to go out there to work with automobile companies and say Michigan, it’s time for us, it’s our turn now. Let’s get it done.
CS: Thank you Mr. DeVos. Governor?
JG: Yes. Um, in fact, I was just at a ribbon-cutting this week for an engine facility called the Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance, which is a partnership between Mitsubishi, Daimler-Chrysler, and Hyundai. All building an engine factory, in fact, it’s the second engine factory that they’re building in Dundee, MI. And here’s the new shift, the new mindset, it that this factory, it’s a UAW factory, but in that UAW contract there’s only one job classification. The motto in the plant is that everyone can do anything anywhere anytime. Labor is only 3% of the cost of the plant, in fact, they’re not hiring anybody who doesn’t have college. That’s the new manufacturing. My- the personal property tax is a disincentive, my proposal reduces it by 35% and the Manufacturers Association of Michigan came and testified in favor of my tax proposal because it was such, such an advantage to manufacturers to stay here, grow here, and thrive here.
CS: Thank you, governor. Mr. DeVos, your rebuttal.
DD: The governor – the governor talked about 35% reduction in the personal property tax, Michigan Manufacturers did support because they thought that’s the best they could get. We can do better. We have to do better. 35% isn’t going to get it done when other states don’t have it at all. And so, once again, half measures, half steps, are going to get us half a solution and we see Michigan going backwards as a result. That is the challenge. We have had some small successes, but 85,000 jobs have left. We can talk, we can fe-focus on, uh, uh, the few successes, but we have to look at the picture in total.
CS: Time. Steven Clark.
SC: I’m not sure what you can do for this gentleman, but he can certainly help your golf swing. He’s a golf pro from Grosse Pointe. Mr. Lindsey Mason III.
LM3: How ya doin’, Governor? I would like to know, what do you plan on doing to revitalize the City of Detroit.
JG: Thank you for asking that question. I, uh, in my state of the state address this year, I in fact said that nothing should come between Detroit and Michigan but a comma. Period. And there is no doubt that the state of Michigan cannot thrive unless we have a vibrant City of Detroit. Unless there’s a great partnership between the mayor of the city and the governor of Michigan. Mayor Kilpatrick and I talked about having a relationship like Governor Milliken and Coleman Young used to have. And that’s very very important, but the state’s gotta be a partner, in Detroit’s economic success as well. Part of the 21st Century Jobs grant, for example, went to Wayne State University and around Tech Town and Next Energy to create the next kind of economy for the City of Detroit. But investing in job training efforts for those who are currently unemployed, investing in their opportunity, we have a whole pilot going on right now in the City of Detroit that trains people, and retrains them for vacancies that exist not just requiring them to get a job without training, to get them trained for vacancies that exist. We have, in fact, our Michigan State Housing Development Authority has invested $500 million in Detroit over the past 3 years to create 5,000 apartments, or uh, homes for lower-income or working families, because housing has gotta be an important aspect of quality of life. I got from the Legislature a $50 million save, rescue for the Detroit Medical Center because health care is an important part of our quality of life. I’m organizing an insurance pool to reduce the cost of homeowners and car insurance in the City of Detroit. We have a partnership with Auto Owners Insurance to reduce the cost by 10% of the bat, another 10% if you’re over 50 years old. The bottom line is as governor of Michigan, we cannot have a divided state. We are one Michigan, we are all in this together, all of our cities have to thrive if we’re to attract that workforce and those job providers, that will help to make our economy grow.
CS: Mr. DeVos, your one-minute response?
DD: Education. We’ve got to get our education systems right in the city of Detroit, ultimately, for our kids. The governor stood by, while par- while fam-, while, while administrators and teachers argued in the classrooms and our kids had to sit in the street. That’s not going to get us—that’s not going to move us forward. This Governor cut revenue sharing—has cut revenue sharing consistently for the city of Detroit and putting great pressure on this great city. Detroit must come back. I’ve said that the renassiance of Michigan will not be complete until the renassiance of this city and I mean that absolutely. That’s why we have to move forward on mass transit. The Governor’s made no progress- promises, but no progress. Once again lots of promises, not progress in mass transit. We need job creation. Slow, medium sized businesses in particular. They don’t get grants. They just need an environment where they can grow their business. They just need access to capital. I know all about that. I’ve been there. We need to get those businesses going and get those jobs started for our city and our community. And we’ve got to get after the crime issue, we’ve got to get after the crime issue. Safety is a huge problem. We need a safe community.
Mod: Governor, your thirty second response.
JMG: You bet. Mr. DeVos, I would ask you right here and now to support a reinstatement of the inheritance tax for those top most wealthy 800 families in the state so that that funding can go to hire police and fire firefighters and those who are engaged in public safety. It would hire 1600 law enforcement officers across the state. Now I know you’re one of those top 800 families who have nationally lobbied to repeal the inheritance tax. Let’s have Michigan join—
JMG: –25 other states in providing public safety through the inheritance tax.
Mod: Alright, thank you very much. Diana Lewis, your question goes to Mr. DeVos, in the interest of preserving the 2 minute closing statements that we guaranteed to you would get, we need for your responses to be 30 seconds, please.
DL: Pam of West Bloomfield joins us right now with a question for Mr. DeVos. Pam?
Pam: Please name one thing you would change about Michigan’s public transportation.
DD: I would change Southeast Michigan because we have too many disconnects right now. It makes it too difficult to move around southeast Michigan. We need all cities working together—cities and counties working together—so that you can move seamlessly from city and county, county and city. That’s critical.
JMG: I would have a public transportation system in SE Michigan in particular but all over the state if they so chose. The Legislature sent me a bill earlier this year that allowed every other community to organize for mass transit except for the city of Detroit. I vetoed that and sent it back to the Legislature and said let all of our communities organize, and they did. Now the city of Detroit can organize for mass transit, I hope that it’s an efficient, clean light rail system.
Mod: Very well. We’ve gotta go right to the closing statements unfortunately in order to get to the two minutes which I think is very very important to you. Mr. DeVos you go first according to the agreement you had when you all tossed a coin several weeks ago.
DD: Thank you very much Chuck. We all continue to hear the Governor misstate the facts to the people of Michigan. It’s unfortunate that the people of Michigan aren’t getting the straight story. This Governor has left the people of Michigan down. This Governor has not protected our jobs. 85,000 jobs are gone. Our unemployment rate has gone over 15 percent above the national average. This Governor has not protected our streets. 1300 less police officers on the streets in MI today. 2600 felons on parole and this administration doesn’t even know where they are. They’re unaccounted for. Crime is up. Burglary, assault, all up. This Governor has not protected our kids. Our drop out rate is up, school performance is down and tuition as we talked about earlier is through the roof. This is unacceptable. This governor has failed the people of Michigan on every count. This Governor has failed to protect Michigan and yet is asking Michigan to protect her job. The good news is Michigan has a choice. I helped turn around a company and led it to success. I helped turn around a city and made it a success. And I’m ready to help turn around Michigan. I am going to be my own economic development director. A business person getting out and getting the job done. We’ll open 10 trade offices around the world to help sell Michigan made products to the world. We can do it. I’ve done it all my career. We’re going to move money into the classroom for our kids. We’re 49th in administration—too much money in administration, not enough in the classroom. We have got to change that. And I’ll put 500 more officers, uniformed police officers, on the streets. We have got to make this community safe and we’ve got to move forward. Michigan’s a great state with great potential. We must change. I’m ready to go to work, and I ask for your vote.
Mod: Thank you, Mr. DeVos. Governor, your closing statement?
JMG: Thank you. There are tremendous, large contrasts in this race. Large contrasts. I’m somebody who has fought for you, for all citizens. He’s somebody who has stood on the other side of the things I’ve fought for. I’ve fought to create jobs here and diversify our economy here in Michigan—he’s eliminated 1400 jobs in Michigan when he was CEO of Amway. I’ve fought the policies of outsourcing and unfair trade of George Bush. He’s George Bush—one of George Bush’s biggest backers and has supported those unfair trade practices that have hurt us. I went to Asia to bring home 22 companies, 1000 jobs and $200 million in investment—he went to Asia and invested $200 million and created thousands of jobs there. I am somebody who strongly believes women should have the right to choose—my opponent strongly believes that that right should be—that she should be criminalized—a criminal if she chose that right even in the case of rape or incest. I support embryonic stem cell research, he opposes it. I support public education, he led the voucher movement to take money away from public education. I’m somebody who believes in health care for all. His health care plan is get a job. I am somebody who believes—I will not gut public safety in order to fund business tax cuts. He corporated his subsidaries in Bermuda to avoid business taxes. There are vast differences, but I’m going to fight for you and for opportunity for all. We may not have all gotten here in the same boat, but we’re in rocky seas, and we’re all in the same boat now. My opponent is an expert yachtsman, and I believe that his philosophy is each man for himself. But I am the captain of this ship of state and I will bring us all into port. My philosophy is: all hands on deck. I ask for your vote on November 7.
Mod: thank you Governor, thank you Mr. DeVos. Thank you both for coming. Thank you panel, thank you audience, give yourself a round of applause. Thank you at home, don’t forget to vote on November the 7th. Good night.