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Senator Patrick Colbeck speaks at Hillsdale College. Josh Pal­adino | Courtesy

What are your accom­plish­ments in edu­cation policy?

I actually was able to put require­ments into our appro­pri­a­tions bill for edu­cation that effec­tively blocked the adoption of the Smarter Balance Con­torium Exam and essen­tially retained Michigan control over the statewide exam. Without that, we would have had the federal gov­ernment con­trolling all the line items that went into our exams. There’s still a lot of room for improvement on the actual statewide exam, but at least I retained state control there.

From a school choice per­spective, I was one of the leaders on removing all the caps on the number of charter schools, and right now I’ve got leg­is­lation that is going through on the Enhanced Michigan Edu­cation Savings Program that creates edu­ca­tional savings accounts in the state. It pro­vides more money for edu­cation without increasing taxes, empowers parents, and makes schools more trans­parent and accountable.

Beyond the leg­is­lation side, I actually par­tic­i­pated in a focus group for two years bat­tling a worldview indoc­tri­nation that was hap­pening with our social studies standard. All I had was a requirement that the stan­dards be polit­i­cally neutral and accurate. I’m happy to say that out of the 15 issues we sub­mitted, we got agreement on all 15. And so now, if they’re going to teach pro­gres­sivism, they’re going to talk about con­ser­vatism as well.

 

What is the role of the local, state, and federal gov­ernment in edu­cation?

I’ve got a simple phi­losophy: Get the feds out, get the state out, and focus on empow­ering parents, teachers, and stu­dents. The savings accounts I’m pro­moting empower parents by putting them in control of their edu­cation dollars. It’s pro­viding them with lat­itude as to where to spend that money.

 

Your cam­paign platform includes abol­ishing the state income tax. How would you do it?

It’s about a $9.7 billion hole. To put this in per­spective, our state budget has increased from $46.8 billion when I started seven years ago to over $56.6 billion. We’ve increased the budget over $10 billion already. We’re talking about filling a $9.7 billion hole, so it’s not unrea­sonable.

These are all mile­stone reduc­tions in the state income tax, so as soon as you achieve a mile­stone, you ratchet down the income tax.

The first big step is around healthcare. I’ve got an approach to saving money on Med­icaid in par­ticular that actually improves the quality of care people receive. Med­icaid is the largest part of our budget at $18 billion. What I’m proposing is a direct primary care healthcare delivery model for all 2.4 million Med­icaid enrollees, and it’s been proven to save over 20 percent on the cost of healthcare while pro­viding better care — it keeps them out of the hos­pital. That’s $3.6 billion out of the $9.7 billion right there.

Right now, we’re picking winners and losers for eco­nomic devel­opment, and what I’m proposing is having a broad-based eco­nomic devel­opment policy. And that means you get rid of $1 billion that the Michigan Eco­nomic Devel­opment Cor­po­ration and the Michigan Strategic Fund put toward picking winners and losers.

 

How do we fix Michigan roads, specif­i­cally in Hillsdale?

There are a couple options we’re not even enter­taining right now. One is dealing with Everlast Con­crete Tech­nology. It costs about 15 percent more up front but the roads last three to four times as long. Second of all, there’s a place called Won­der­crete that actually plas­ti­cizes cement and essen­tially creates rub­berized con­crete that helps it last for a long time.