One day before the midterm election, polls show a close race between Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer and incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.

Schauer, who was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for Michigan’s 7th Congressional District from 2009 until 2011, has advocated a policy platform focused on economic growth and realigning the state’s budget priorities.

Education Funding

Schauer has frequently said he will be the “education governor,” urging Michiganders to “make education our top economic priority.”

Schauer advocates for restoring the state’s education funding to pre-2011 levels. Snyder decreased higher education spending by 15 percent — $240 million — in the 2012 budget, though he increased spending in subsequent years. In an October interview with The Michigan Daily, Schauer said he supports increased higher education funding because it “will help strengthen our economy and help us grow, become more competitive and create faster economic growth, lower unemployment and better wages for people.”

Schauer wants to increase the School Aid Fund and said he will reverse Snyder’s K-12 funding cuts, suggesting that the cuts in education were made in favor of tax breaks for corporations amounting to $1.8 billion. Snyder has responded by claiming that Michigan’s K-12 funding has actually increased.

Student Debt

Related to higher education policy is Schauer’s plan for approaching student debt. He advocates for a loan-focused approach that allows for refinancing loans at lower interest rates, perhaps through a public-private partnership.

“The student loan refinancing authority doesn’t necessarily need to cost anything,” Schauer said. “It could be a way of investing state pension funds, or pooling or aggregating other private sector dollars.”

He also hopes to increase need-based financial aid, which he views as a benefit for the whole state. Schauer said he will draw resources from inefficient government programs to finance the program.

Taxation

In an e-mail interview, Schauer wrote that he plans to change taxation schemes in Michigan. He wrote that Snyder has given corporations tax breaks worth up to $1.8 billion, even when these corporations send jobs overseas, while at the same time seniors the middle class faced tax hikes. However, an analysis by the Detroit Free Press noted this claim was mostly true, but misleading.

“Many seniors are paying up to $3,100 more in taxes a year because of Snyder’s tax on pensions and cuts to the Homestead Property Tax Credit, according to the nonpartisan House Fiscal Agency,” Schauer wrote. “Middle-income families with kids are paying up to 77 percent more in taxes. It’s plain to see that this system is not fair.”

Schauer also said he will restore the Child Tax Credit, which offers tax refunds to families with children, and will repeal the Snyder Retirement Tax to help local businesses and workers. He will also work to restore the Homestead Property Tax Credit, a government credit based on a comparison of an individual’s resources and property tax, as well as the Earned Income Tax Credit, which refunds tax credit to low to moderate-income workers with one or more children.

Infrastructure

Schauer said he believes that one of the most important issues for Michigan is rebuilding the state’s infrastructure. He noted that “Michigan’s crumbling roads cost drivers $2.5 billion dollars a year in wear and tear on their cars,” and wrote that he secured $900 million in federal funding for Michigan’s roads when he was in Congress.

“I’ll look under every nook and cranny of our state government to cut wasteful spending that we can use for key priorities like roads,” Schauer wrote. “We will audit state contractors to find money wasted through poor oversight.”

Same-Sex Rights

Schauer has been vocal on the topic of same-sex rights. He supports same-sex marriage, said he will fight for establishing same-sex marriage in Michigan and stands behind U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman’s decision to repeal the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Schauer has criticized Snyder for not being clear about where he stands on same-sex marriage. He also pointed out that Snyder has signed legislation banning domestic partners who are state employees from receiving benefits.

Schauer has said he wants to amend the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, which was implemented in 1976 to protect against discrimination in the workplace, to cover the currently omitted LGBTQ community.

His stance against LGBTQ discrimination is also business-minded, noting that a ban on marriage equality costs Michigan’s economy by pushing entrepreneurs and potential workers away.

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