Editor’s Note: The Michigan Daily does not officially endorse Patrick Colbeck for governor. The Daily continues to reach out to other gubernatorial candidates for comments and interviews.

The Daily recently met with Michigan gubernatorial candidate Patrick Colbeck to discuss his platform and goals if elected. Colbeck is running against Attorney General Bill Schuette, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and Jim Hines for the Republican candidacy. The primary election is set to take place Aug. 7.

Colbeck says he is the only Republican candidate who can beat the Democrats in the general election, emphasizing his grassroot support.

“I can win the general election,” Colbeck said. “There’s not going to be too much enthusiasm to go get out the vote in the general election and, frankly, the Michigan Democratic Party chair talks about me being the biggest threat to the Democrats in the general election.” 

Colbeck says despite the media attention focused on opponents Schuette and Calley, he is willing to go beyond merely performing one-minute sound bites to provide detailed strategies and implement solutions.

“I’m an engineer so I actually solve problems,” Colbeck said. “Everybody else, they’re much better speakers. I had my one technical speaking course at Michigan but that was about it. The key is people are looking for someone who can solve problems and whatever the policy issue across the board is, I’ve demonstrated that I can go into the details on any of the different policy issues that we’re facing at the state level and I can find solutions to those problems.”

“Mixing things up” 

Colbeck says voters are ready for something new, because they are tired of “politics as usual.” Colbeck believes he can bring authenticity to his role and implement real solutions to problems in Michigan such as poor education, bad roads and high taxes.

“When you talk about fixing the roads, I don’t frame the problem for 58 seconds out of a one-minute reply and then have a two second response on how to fix it. I actually spend all my time, probably talking too fast trying to squeeze it into a minute, and say, ‘Here’s the solution,’” Colbeck said. “I’ve gotten people that have declared Independent or Democrat that come up and want to support my campaign because they’re tired of people with the marketing blitz and not any substance. So, the big differentiator and the way I set up is that I’ve got substance in my narrative and in my solutions.”

Removing the state income tax

Colbeck plans to remove the state income tax if elected. He explained there are many ways he plans to find alternate funding after removing the tax.

Without the income tax, there is a $9.7 billion net difference in the state budget. Colbeck elaborated he has numerous outlets where the money would come from to make up for this cut.

In order to eliminate the state income tax, Colbeck would reform Medicaid with Direct Primary Care, which he explains would allow for better care for people from lower socioeconomic statuses while cutting $3.6 billion in expenses from the budget.

“Everybody, as soon as you start saying you’re going to cut it based on Medicaid and you’re going to take it out on the poor, no. We’re actually getting the poor better care,” Colbeck said. “We’re actually getting rid of the scarlet ‘M’ that a lot of Medicaid recipients see. They can’t get access to a primary care physician. Now, we’re giving them an opportunity to get to a primary care physician which will help keep them out of the hospital and out of the chronic illnesses. It’s a win across the board. The only people that lose out are hospitals. And guess where I’m getting the opposition?”

Colbeck also plans to cut another $1 billion from the state budget through pursuing what he calls “broad based economic fulfillment.”

“Nobody has to fill out any paperwork to tell them how many jobs they’re going to provide,” Colbeck said regarding stimulating economic development without subsidizing big corporations. “What you do is you eliminate the barriers to creating more jobs and lowering the cost of business operations, which is the most straightforward way of doing that. Cutting regulations and other things like that help as well.”

Another mode of saving taxpayer money according to Colbeck’s plan is to eliminate sales tax fraud by targeting machines called “zappers” that cheat the state out of estimated billions of dollars of sales tax by mislabeling the price. 

Colbeck explains cutting the state income tax will make Michigan a competitive state again.

“It’s just about doing government more effectively and more efficiently and goes beyond the generic waste, fraud and abuse line and gives us specific ways we can go off and drain it,” Colbeck said. “I think it’s a rational approach and the big opportunity at the end of this is the fact that we have a 0 percent income tax and 6 percent sales tax we’re going to compete with some of the fastest-growing states in the country that are at 0 percent and 7 percent sales tax. That’s huge. The people that we shipped out in the last decade, they’re going to be coming back home.”

Fixing education in Michigan

Colbeck seeks to replace the Common Core standards of Michigan’s education system with pre-Common Core Massachusetts’ standards for math and language arts, which are the top standards in the country.

Colbeck explains despite a $12 billion budget for education, the state is failing because the government has taken the primary role in education through controlling standardized tests rather than allowing the true customer — the students and parents — to have the ability to pick and choose what they need individually. 

“We want have some measure of the quality and such here, but the only problem with that is it’s not the state that should be measuring the quality of it, it should be the individual parent,” Colbeck said.

Colbeck is a strong advocate for school choice, explaining a competitive environment would not only allow parents and students to choose the right school for their needs, but also force schools to improve.

“That competition – I’ve already seen it happen in my district already – actually forces the traditional public schools to up their game,” Colbeck said. “And when they up their game, then the charter schools up their game.”

Finally, Colbeck explained as an engineer he has great appreciation for people who can work in skilled trades. This appreciation, he explains, has influenced his position on what the outcome of education should look like.

“I want to make education a lifelong endeavor, not something that is just focused on pushing everybody into higher education,” Colbeck said.

Colbeck also cited his Enhanced Michigan Education Savings Program, which would allow additional funding and control for parents and students. The program also provides increased transparency on the state’s education budget.

Addressing sexual assault on college campuses

In light of recent cases like the Larry Nassar scandal at Michigan State University, Colbeck says a lack of transparency and free speech leads to instances like what happened with Rachael Denhollander when she tried to speak out against Nassar.

“You have to create a culture where you’re allowed to have a voice and concerns for people without being shut down,” Colbeck said. “One of the reasons I’m such an advocate for campus free speech is that, while that’s a broader issue, it’s actually symptomatic of what’s happened in this case. I want to make sure we all have the ability to talk about issues that other people think are sensitive and you should be able to discuss them.” 

Colbeck also believes issues like sexual assault also bring up further issues of self defense.

“I think that one of the things you need to address are the gun-free zones,” Colbeck said. “People will think twice about if they’re going off and assaulting somebody that’s armed.” 

Gun violence and the hardening of schools

Colbeck started a fund in 2014 to address school safety. The grants were developed so schools could implement strategies to protect the students from violence.  Ultimately, Colbeck says these safety techniques merely represent common sense tactics and only serve as placeholders.

“Ultimately, though, the way to solve it is to get rid of gun-free zones because these bad guys, these psychopaths that come into these environments, they’re counting on nobody being able to fire back,” Colbeck said. “I’m not saying arm the teachers, I’m just saying allow the teachers to arm themselves and the administrators and parents if they visit. …We have this fundamental Second Amendment right in our U.S. Constitution. We have a fundamental right in the Michigan Constitution article in section six to defend ourselves.”

Colbeck explained there are two basic approaches to gun violence: take away people’s guns and their freedom with it or allow people to defend themselves.

In light of the Maryland shooting, Colbeck says getting rid of gun-free zones could stop mass shootings, pointing out mass shootings continue to occur in gun-free zones.

“This is what you have when you have a society that is focused more on promoting dependence upon government as opposed to independence,” Colbeck said. “The bigger picture issue is that everybody is counting on somebody else to take care of something that they can take care of themselves.”

To read the official transcript please click here.

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