Michigan GOP hopefuls demand tax cuts, gun control

Great Rapids – Four of Michigan’s Republican gubernatorial candidates sparred Wednesday night over how to cut taxes and fight inflation while agreeing they would resist attempts to impose new gun restrictions .

During a sometimes combative 90-minute debate on the campus of Grand Valley State University, Bloomfield Township businessman Kevin Rinke touted his proposal to eliminate $4 personal income tax. .25% of the state, a move that could shave $12 billion from the state’s annual revenue.

Conservative commentator Tudor Dixon of Norton Shores suggested that Rinke’s plan was incomplete saying she supported reducing income tax over time but arguing that Rinke had no plan to replace state funds that would be immediately lost.

“I think people should just know there’s no plan to eliminate income tax in a year,” Dixon said at one point of Rinke’s proposal.

The Metro Detroit businessman countered by saying his plan speaks for itself and that Lansing “has plenty of money.” State lawmakers last week approved a $76 billion budget for next year.

“People are hurting now,” Rinke said. “And taking our time to slowly reduce income taxes is like a slow death for the state of Michigan.”

Metro Detroit businessman Kevin Rinke asks a question during debate prep before Wednesday night's Republican gubernatorial debate sponsored by WOOD-TV and the Republican Party of Michigan.  Rinke argued with Norton Shores commentator Tudor Dixon over his plan to eliminate the state's 4.25% personal income tax.

The exchange was part of a series of disagreements on full display during the fifth debate of the GOP primary race for governor, hosted by the Republican Party of Michigan and WOOD-TV.

The debate came 27 days before the Aug. 2 primary election, when GOP voters will select a candidate to challenge Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer in November.

In addition to Rinke and Dixon, real estate broker Ryan Kelley of Allendale and chiropractor Garrett Soldano of Mattawan participated in the debate.

Kelley said he has a 100-day plan that includes doing a budget audit to find “those wasteful expenses.” He said property taxes were rising too high and needed to be capped, reduced and eventually eliminated.

Norton Shores commentator and businesswoman Tudor Dixon said Republican foe Kevin Rinke had no plan to replace the $12 billion in annual revenue the state would lose by eliminating the income tax. personal income by 4.25%.  Rinke said he would work with the Legislative Assembly to find the revenue needed to replace the income tax shortfall.

Under Proposal A, which came into effect in the mid-1990s, property taxes are capped so that they increase at the rate of inflation or up to 5% per year, whichever is lower. The assessed value is capped if a home has not changed owners or seen additions to the property in the past year. The assessed value is capped only when the home is sold under state law.

Soldano has committed to forensic accounting of the budget because spending growth is not sustainable. Soldano said he would “review the budget line by line” and get rid of “unnecessary expenses”.

More unity against gun control

The four candidates were more united in their opposition to gun control and abortion. Their comments about guns came after a mass shooting during a Monday July 4 parade in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park that killed seven people and injured more than two dozen others.

“It is not law-abiding citizens who are committing these crimes,” Rinke said. “They are children, and they are criminals, mentally ill, who are socially excluded and abused in many cases by the people they interact with on a daily basis.”

Likewise, Kelley said criminals will not follow new gun laws.

Allendale real estate broker Ryan Kelley said he wants to cap, reduce and eventually eliminate property taxes.  Property taxes have been capped in Michigan since the mid-1990s under Proposition A, the law backed by former GOP Gov. John Engler.

“Guns aren’t the problem,” Kelley said.

Soldano focused on mental health.

“We don’t have a gun problem,” he said. “We have a mental health issue.”

This year, Democrats in the state legislature pushed for new gun storage standards and background checks for gun purchases.

How they position themselves on abortion

GOP candidates also touted their stances on abortion, which became a key election issue after the U.S. Supreme Court last month overturned the Roe v. Wade of 1973, which protected access to abortion nationwide.

While Whitmer said she would “fight like hell” to protect abortion rights, Dixon described herself as “unequivocally pro-life.” Soldano said he was against abortion with an exception to preserve the life of the mother.

“This is a legislative matter,” Rinke said. “And the Legislature must represent the people of this state in determining what our way forward is.”

Kelley supported a longstanding Michigan law that prohibits abortion except to preserve the life of the mother. The state law cannot be enforced following the Supreme Court’s ruling because a Michigan Court of Claims judge issued a preliminary injunction that prevents it from taking effect.

Lavora Barnes, chairwoman of the Michigan Democratic Party, said the Republican candidates had “fought to defend the most radical positions and again refused to offer real solutions for families in Michigan” during the debate.

“Rinke, Kelley, Dixon, and Soldano presented a bleak vision of Michigan’s future, where anti-democracy conspiracy theories and dangerous abortion bans take precedence, while progress on building infrastructure is reversed, funding for law enforcement is cut and public schools are dismantled,” Barnes said.

play trump

The four Republican debate candidates were playing both primary voters and former President Donald Trump, who has yet to endorse a candidate in the race, said John Sellek, CEO of Michigan political consultancy firm Harbor Strategic Public Affairs.

“I would expect Trump’s approval factor to be the elephant in the room pushing candidates to play against him because he would likely push one of the top four into a lasting lead,” Sellek said before. debate.

Mattawan chiropractor Garrett Soldano made a play of support for former President Donald Trump during Wednesday night's debate, referring to Trump as

Several candidates specifically said they supported Trump on Wednesday, with Soldano calling him “my president.”

Dixon, who actively sought Trump’s endorsement, including holding a fundraising in early February at his property in Florida, said the former president never got the attention he deserved for the good things he did.

“We’re focused on Jan. 6, where there were peaceful protesters, and then some who disrupted the process,” Dixon said of the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol as Congress gathered to count. the country’s electoral votes.

On Trump’s unproven claims that the fraud cost him the 2020 presidential election in Michigan, Kelley pressed Rinke at one point to find out if the fraud directly tipped the race.

Rinke had only said that there had been irregularities and fraud during the election.

“Ask him,” Kelley told WOOD-TV moderator Rick Albin on whether the fraud cost Trump the election.

Albin continued instead of pressing Rinke.

Duel over the DeVos family

In another brawl, Soldano and Dixon clashed over the fact that she was endorsed by the West Michigan DeVos family. Soldano repeatedly called Dixon an “establishment-backed candidate.”

“You’re backed by the establishment. You’re backed by the DeVos empire,” Soldano said during a panel discussion at the Richard M. DeVos Center.

Dixon countered that Soldano had searched for the same endorsements she had – an idea Soldano seemed to disagree with.

Pastor Ralph Rebandt of Farmington Hills was the only GOP candidate excluded from the debate because he did not meet the voting threshold set by the event organizers. Candidates had to score 5% in independent polls to be invited, according to WOOD-TV.

In a statement, Rebandt criticized the policy and pointed to the large percentage of voters who remain undecided, according to multiple primary polls.

“In every poll that’s been taken, there’s been one consistent variable – at least 48%, as the low marker, to 66% as the high marker of Michigan voters are undecided, and in a race where no candidate has reached double digits, and where all the candidates are within a few points of each other, it’s just poor journalistic judgment to leave one candidate out of the limelight,” Rebandt said.

Kelley has has drawn political attention in recent weeks after his arrest on June 9 on misdemeanor charges related to the January 6, 2021 riot at the United States Capitol.

He was due to be arraigned at 10 a.m. Thursday in federal court in Washington, DC, more than 1 p.m. after the hearing ended. However, Kelley is only to appear via video connection, the court heard. The realtor insisted he did not enter the Capitol on Jan. 6.

During the debate, Kelley was asked about the events of January 6, 2021. He said, “January 6, 2021, back when gas was below $2 a gallon. Those were good times. “

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