The two candidates for the 99th District of the Michigan House of Representatives have different ideas on how to improve the Mount Pleasant area.
Incumbent Rep. Kevin Cotter, R-Mount Pleasant, and Democratic opponent Adam Lawrence discussed education, health care, taxes and their philosophical stances on each. They also anticipated their first actions in office if elected.
Lawrence said education is his biggest campaign issue. He has emphasized education in the past, including an Oct. 18 debate where he said the best way for the state legislature to invest in the people is through education.
“It’s important to get educators to get the children the basic skills they need to be successful,” Lawrence said.
Cotter said $90 million of the $500 million surplus generated from the 2011 budget that was passed was used for education.
“When we were able to get $90 million, several other members of the House along with myself were able to use that money to fund schools at the bottom of the list in per-pupil funding,” Cotter said.
Cotter said he would continue to push for the surplus money to be used for education.
“There’s still a long way to go,” he said. “I want to continue to close that funding gap.”
Health care was another big campaign platform for Lawrence.
“Health care is a huge issue,” Lawrence said. “If I were elected, that would be the first thing I would work on. The biggest problem I see when I go door-to-door, about every fifth door, a person tells me they don’t have any type of health care or insurance. It makes it a gloomy day to hear that again, and again, and again.”
Cotter said the House is currently reviewing the health care system in Michigan.
“We’re in a situation where the state has to set up an exchange,” Cotter said. “Because if we don’t do that, the federal government will come in and set up an exchange for us. It’s important that we take a look at this, get an exchange set up, because I think we need to have a hand in designing it.”
Cotter said he expects the House will come out with information about the health care exchange, which will determine what will be covered and what will not.
“I think we’re going to be able to come up with a solution that is a Michigan solution,” Cotter said.
The third large issue for the campaigns is taxes. Lawrence said that releasing the burden of taxes on small businesses would lead to an increase in tax revenue for the state, through income taxes of the people involved in small businesses who would have more money in their pockets with alleviated small business taxes.
“The more money that is spent in the market, the more tax revenue there is and the more money there is to use for creating jobs and paved roads and funding for education,” Lawrence said.
Lawrence’s stance aligns with the work Cotter has done in the last term. Cotter said the definition of a small business is 500 or fewer employees. The problem that Cotter said he realized was that people in small businesses were taxed at two levels: small business taxes and home income taxes. Cotter said a push was made by the government to remove the small business tax so that only one tax was paid, strengthening the Michigan economy and making the job market more competitive.
“We just made the system a lot more competitive and fair,” Cotter said. “I think that was a great start at the business level.”