Three candidates are competing for the Republican nomination to represent Michigan’s 69th state House district. Last night, the trio appeared on a local government access TV show to debate the issues.
The GOP candidates for the 69th House district are Frank Lambert, a General Motors employee and part-time paralegal, George Nastas the Third, a 35-year Meridian Township resident, and current township supervisor Susan McGillicuddy. The district encompasses Meridian Township, East Lansing and much of Ingham County.
Appearing on the township’s government access TV channel, each candidate was asked what they felt was the biggest challenge facing the district. Lambert said he’d offer a flat tax to replace Michigan’s outdated tax structure.
“One of the proposals that I would like to make if I’m elected is, I would like to put up a ballot proposal so that the people can vote into our constitution if they so choose, for an eight percent sales tax across the board and elimination of property taxes and personal income taxes,” said Lambert. “That gives you a use-based tax and it’s not antiquated. It’s market based, and if you don’t use it, you don’t pay the tax.”
McGillicuddy said the state’s business climate is improving, thanks in part to the elimination of the unpopular Michigan Business Tax. But she expressed some reservation about Lambert’s proposal.
“Frank talks about the flat tax; there are some merits to the flat tax, but that’s a tax increase,” she said. “Quite honestly, I’d be a little bit anxious that any future legislature would raise that flat tax to 10 percent or 12 percent. There’s no guarantee that they would not raise that.”
Nastas viewed available revenue as two pies; one for private sector, the other public.
“Most people; all people, benefit from expenditures on topics like the state police, but then there are other areas like university education that benefit a subset of the public,” Nastas said. “And I’d like to squeeze some of those expenditures that just benefit a smaller number of people out of the public sector and put that money into the private sector for people to spend.”
Moderator Jo Ann Paul asked the candidates how they would make the state more attractive to businesses, citing a CNBC study that ranks Michigan 33rd best for business. McGillicuddy said a key step is eliminating with the personal property tax on business equipment, such as that used in the auto industry.
“All of the machinery that is used to create that car is taxed,” said McGillicuddy. “And I would like to see the personal property taxes eliminated for our business so we can see more business growth. Of course it’s by bringing more business here and seeing those businesses that we already have grow and expand that we will see more businesses and more jobs here in Michigan.”
Nastas advocated Michigan becoming a right to work state, eliminating the requirement that workers pay union dues to keep their jobs.
“Indiana is a right-to-work state now, so Indiana has got a comparative advantage versus Michigan,” he said. “And when manufacturers look at where they’re going to expand their businesses or put their businesses, they’re going to look to Indiana rather than Michigan. That’s not to say people shouldn’t have the right to form unions, but workers shouldn’t be compelled to join those unions as a condition of employment.”
Lambert took a more critical view of right to work. He stated that if a union exists in any business, all members of that business receive union benefits without paying for them.
“They receive the pay, they receive all the different holidays off, all the protections; all of the different things that I believe most of Michigan would believe that that is not right,” said Lambert. “They’re getting something without paying anything for it. If you want to have right-to-work, then have true right-to-work. You are there as an at-will employee. You can be dismissed for no reason or any reason. That’s right-to-work. But that’s not what exists when a union exists in a business.”
The candidates also fielded questions on renewable energy. Lambert said he supports wind turbines as a job creator, citing its economic benefits in Europe. McGillicuddy refuted his claim, and proposed a myriad of options, from clean coal to nuclear and solar power. Nastas said he opposed a ballot measure this November that mandates the state attain 25 percent of is energy through renewable sources by 2025. He said he did not want to see public taxes subsidizing that goal, instead leaving the solution to the free market.
Frank Lambert, Susan McGillicuddy and George Nastas will face off in the Republican primary on August 7.