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.