We have our first blog interview here at the Republican Michigander. We'll hopefully have more of these in the future.
The first interview is with our next Governor, Dick DeVos. There are ten of them along with "subquestions", and all of them were answered. Some were softballs, but some were harder questions as well. Before we get to the questions, I'd like to thank Dick DeVos for the interview, and wish him the best of luck in his campaign. He has my vote.
RM: What is the reaction across the state to your campaign?
DeVos: Since I announced my candidacy more than a year ago, I’ve traveled more than 70,000 miles visiting all 83 counties and am working on my second lap. As I’ve met and talked with residents, I have been forever changed. The people I’ve met with tell me that they are concerned about the future of this state and whether or not their children and grandchildren will be able to find jobs here. They are open to our message of change because they recognize that change is needed.
RM: Two recent polls show the campaign being tied. What is your reaction to the momentum shifting your way? (This was asked before the latest poll showing DeVos 6 points ahead)
DeVos: We are pleased with the progress the campaign for change is making. But it is still early. Everyone needs to remember that the polls will change many more times between now and November.
I judge momentum by the responses I get in my travels around the state – and it’s very positive.
RM: Michigan is one of the only states in the country to lose jobs. Why is that? What can be done to change this?
DeVos: Michigan has one of the worst tax climates in the country because of the job-killing single business tax (SBT). The SBT taxes a company whether they make a profit or not, and it taxes a company each time it expands or hires new employees. In addition, the SBT taxes companies for providing their employees with health care. My plan lays out very specific thing we can do to improve our economy. I will reform Michigan’s business climate so job makers will no longer be harmed for investing and expanding business in this state. In addition, I will lead our state by making the tough decisions which are necessary to stimulate action and get the economy back on track and help families find and keep good paying jobs.
RM: The current governor just vetoed the repeal of the SBT tax. Would you have signed the elimination of the SBT? Would you have replaced the revenue with a different tax, or with budget cuts?
DeVos: As I said, elimination of the SBT is a key to helping turn our struggling economy around, and therefore would have signed the bill. When the SBT is eliminated, there will be a void in the state budget, and the best way to deal with that is through a combination of budget cuts, job growth, and a more fair business tax.
RM: One major issue in Livingston County is guns. Several people have asked me about your stance on our Second Amendment. What is your view on our Second Amendment rights?
DeVos: There have been and will continue to be many debates surrounding the rights given to us in the Second Amendment. Let me be clear: I support the Second Amendment rights granted to us by our Founding Fathers to keep and bear arms.
RM: Just outside of Livingston County is the Ford Wixon plant. Ford Motor Company is closing the Wixom plant. Currently Michigan’s manufacturing jobs are rapidly leaving the state. What would you do as governor to help reduce the job losses here?
DeVos: We need to create a business-friendly environment in the state and the first thing we can do to assist us in reaching that goal is to eliminate the single business tax. We need to do more to diversify Michigan’s economy and we must do more to sell Michigan-made products all over the world.
RM: The Democrats are saying that you have outsourced Michigan jobs to China. Is this true? If this is false, what is the truth?
DeVos: When I was the head of Alticor, we realized that to make sure our business would survive we would have to improve our efforts to sell Michigan-made products around the world. Even though it was a tough call, choosing to expand in China was the right decision for our businesses and for Michigan.
During our expansion, and contrary to the partisan rhetoric that’s being spread, not one Michigan job – not one – was sent to China. In fact, expanding into the Chinese market has created 300 jobs right here in Michigan and helped secure the employment of thousands more Michigan workers. At the same time we invested $200 million in China - as required by their laws - Alticor invested more than $700 million right here in Michigan to support operations.
I’ve learned firsthand that it’s possible to invest in China without eliminating jobs in Michigan. Investment there does in fact lead to growth and prosperity here in our state. In order to remain competitive in this global economy, Michigan needs more companies that are willing to invest and sell Michigan-made products all over the world. In fact, the only way to turn Michigan around is to stop fearing international competition, take on the global marketplace and sell Michigan products everywhere we can. By doing this, we will create jobs.
RM: Why are you running for governor? What do you bring to the governorship of Michigan?
DeVos: I am running for Governor, not because I have anything to gain from becoming Governor, but because I believe that my business background, leadership, and understanding give me a great deal to offer the state of Michigan. Our state is going through an economic crisis. Unemployment is skyrocketing and jobs leave Michigan at an alarming rate. Local communities cannot afford to provide the critical fire and police services we depend on for safety. We need strong, principled leadership in Michigan. We need someone who understands how to turn our state and its struggling economy around. I am that person and I have the experience necessary to make change happen in Michigan.
I am the only candidate running for Governor who has the business background to bring jobs to our state. If there was ever a time to put a job maker in the Governor’s chair, this is that time.
If anyone wants to find out more about how they can be a part of the Team for Change, volunteer, etc., I’d encourage them to visit or Web site at www.DeVosforGovernor.com.
RM: What are your most important issues in this campaign?
DeVos: The number one issue facing this state right now is jobs and the economy. What can we do to put people back to work? As I’ve said, my plan to turn Michigan’s economy around begins with the elimination of the SBT, doing more to diversify our economy and working to ensure that Michigan-made products are sold all around the world.
RM: Gas prices are extremely high here in Michigan. What can be done in this state for us to either increase our supplies, reduce dependency on foreign oil, or both?
DeVos: We can begin by capping the gas tax when gas prices are at or exceed $1.95 per gallon. As gas prices soar, some turn to blaming and complaining. I propose action and results and this is one of those times. Residents should not have to deal with the additional burden of high sales tax on gas. Lansing can do something to help families. I am advocating an end to the windfall tax gouging of Michigan families.
Residents pay 19 cents per gallon in a state gas tax and the federal government collects another 18.4 cents per gallon. In addition, the state also collects 6 percent sales tax on the price of gas.
The state doesn’t need the additional excess; residents should be able to keep their hard-earned money.