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In MI Gov Race, It’s Labor’s Taste for Change vs. the GOP’s Four-Year-Old Flavor

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In the Michigan gubernatorial race, incumbent Rick Snyder has enjoyed a slight lead in the polls, but labor is making a strong last-second push for his opponent, former state senator and U.S. Congressman Mark Schauer. 9 percent of voters remain undecided as the candidates come down the home stretch with very well-funded war chests.

The main issue for working people — and union members in particular — is the state GOP’s passage of “Right-to-Work” legislation during a lame duck session despite Snyder stating publicly that such a law “was not in his agenda.”  Endorsements show Schauer is clearly supported by the labor community. He, himself, is a member of Laborers International Union of North America (LiUNA!) Local 3555.

The AFL-CIO provides six reasons that Mark Schauer is the only choice for working families:

When Schauer was in Congress, he was fierce champion for working people. He stood by workers by:

• Saving auto jobs: Protecting Michigan’s heritage and jobs by fighting for the auto industry rescue.
• Supporting the Make It in America law: Creating tough, new Buy American laws to invest in Michigan workers. [H.R. 4213, Vote 424, 5/28/10]
• Demanding tax breaks for working families: Cutting taxes for middle- and lower-income families, expanding child care, college and home buying tax credits. [H.R. 1, Vote 70, 2/13/09]  

That’s just some of what Schauer did for working families in Congress. Here are his priorities as governor for every family in Michigan, not just a handful at the top.

• Strong education: Invest in pre-K to give children a strong start and make college affordable for students. [Michigan Live, 6/17/14; Democratic Governors Association, 1/28/14]
• Tax fairness: Cut taxes for middle-class families and make the wealthy pay their fair share.
• Job creation: Repeal Gov. Rick Synder’s “right to work” law that hurt workers and cut benefits.

The AFL-CIO didn’t stop at praising Schauer. They also tore Snyder to shreds:

1. Snyder signed into law two bills (one applying to public workers, one to private workers) that bypassed the normal committee process and public input period and made the state a “right to work” state, which, in reality, just means that the balance of power in the state favors wealthy CEOs over workers even more than it already did. [The Huffington Post, 12/11/12]

2. During a time of high unemployment because of wild Wall Street risk-taking, Snyder signed legislation cutting unemployment benefits, corporate taxes and workers’ earned benefits. He’s also cut the budget, workers’ compensation and regulations that protect Michigan residents. [Grand Rapids Press, 1/20/14]

3. Despite the increased need for education in tough economic times, Snyder cut funding for schools while making sure to fund tax breaks for big corporations.  According to the Detroit Free Press, “And then, to add financial insult to injury, Gov. Rick Snyder cut higher education funding by 15% in his first budget, in part to pay for a big business tax cut.” [Detroit Free Press, 7/2/13]

4. While he has a seemingly endless desire to cut taxes for big corporations and the wealthiest residents of the state, he cut back on tax credits that working families depend on (like the homestead property credit, Earned Income Tax Credit and the child tax credit) and added new taxes to retiree pensions. [MLive, 8/23/13]

5. Snyder refuses to listen to the will of the people, even on issues that directly affect them. In November 2012, voters repealed the emergency manager bill that Snyder had previously signed, which takes away power from officials elected by the public. Snyder and his cronies in the legislature quickly passed a new version of the bill that prevents citizens from repealing it a second time. [The Huffington Post, 12/27/12]

Schauer has earned countless endorsements, including the important Michigan Educators Association (MEA) nod.  He assured voters that education would be among his highest priorities if elected:

As the son of a high school science teacher, I’m honored to have the support of so many hard-working school employees.

I’m running for governor because Rick Snyder has taken our state in the wrong direction. Snyder’s school cuts have led to widespread school employee layoffs, larger class sizes and less individual attention for our kids. As governor, I’ll make education my top priority, and fight to give our kids the skills they need to compete for 21st century jobs.”

Schauer’s performance in the candidates’ debate has also been a boost according to Eclectablog:

Last night’s one and only gubernatorial debate between Republican Rick Snyder and his Democratic challenger Mark Schauer showed our state two very different men. While Schauer gave answers that were succinct and generally on point, Snyder came across as frantic and defensive for most of the evening.

In a Q&A with the Lansing State Journal, Schauer described his vision of the future concerning PAC spending, arguing that he would fight hard for disclosure and an end of the era of dark money:

Michiganders deserve to know who is trying to gain influence over elected officials by contributing large sums of money to support them.

In the Michigan Senate and in the U.S. Congress I introduced and voted for legislation calling for greater financial disclosure by public officials and greater transparency of corporate and special interest money in political campaigns.

As governor, I will require all in-state political funds and state contractors to publicly disclose political contributions online on a quarterly basis so taxpayers know which special interest groups are trying to influence public policy. I will require personal financial disclosure for elected officials and top political appointees to ensure public officials are not profiting at taxpayer expense.

I’ll ban lobbyist gifts to government officials to make sure they respond to the public’s needs, and not special treatment from lobbyists, and close the revolving door between the legislature and the lobby corps in Lansing by requiring a mandatory “cooling off” period after leaving public office

Though Rick Snyder has fared far better in the court of public opinion than his fellow GOP governors from the class of 2010 (Paul Le Page and Tom Corbett, to name a couple) his agenda has been no less controversial.  The Michigan Governor’s race is close and shows the sharp divide that exists in the state. The election will come down to whether Michigan voters want change in the near-term or feel confident in seeing what Snyder’s next move will be.

For more of each candidate’s positions, review the Huffington Post Nonpartisan Candidates Guide for the Michigan Governor’s Race.


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