This is not a typical election. Year after year, Michigan has been presented with candidates indebted to the same special interest groups. Year after year, residents have heard the same tired attack ads and seen gridlock, budget battles, government shutdowns and short-term fixes in Lansing. Our economy continues to grow weaker and many college graduates struggle to start their careers in Michigan.

Today, we have a new choice. Rick Snyder is the only candidate who has refused donations from special interests. He is the only candidate with widespread support from Democrats, Republicans and Independents. His successes in the private sector — as an accountant, the manager of a Fortune 500 company and venture capitalist — give him the pragmatic, long-term approach to governing that this state desperately needs. His plans to reignite business, government and education are dramatic enough to reawaken our state and put us on course for meaningful, lasting success.

As governor, Snyder would work to make Michigan one of the most economically competitive states in the nation. Our current business tax is a cobweb of exceptions, formulas and favors, charging 4.95 percent of net income, 0.8 percent of modified gross receipts, 1.25 percent of gross insurance premiums, 0.235 percent of banks’ net capital, and adding a 21.99-percent surcharge on top. The tax discourages hiring and is infamous for charging companies even when they lose money.

At a time when businesses are already facing a difficult economic climate, burdensome taxes can significantly harm income and payrolls. To make Michigan instantly more attractive to outside firms and potential entrepreneurs, Snyder would replace our current business tax code with a simple, flat 6-percent corporate income tax. The campaign estimates this would lower the tax burden by $1.5 billion, returning an enormous amount of money back to companies for investing, saving and hiring.

Reinventing Michigan goes far beyond tax policy. To end the cycle of gridlock in Lansing, Snyder will push for multi-year, “value for money” budgeting — a process used by private sector companies and many state governments. Value for money budgeting will ask the citizens — we, the people — what priorities we want in government services, and then work to ensure that each dollar of funding returns at least a dollar of value to us. Taking a long-term, citizen-supported approach will give greater momentum to the issues we find important, and help reduce partisan stalling and get things done. This will also draw the blueprint for a smaller, more responsive state government that works with citizens, not against them.

Another key issue for Snyder is improving the quality of education in Michigan because better education translates into better opportunities and careers. Snyder knows the benefits of public education — he earned a bachelor’s degree, MBA and JD from the University of Michigan by the age of 24. He wants to work with educational leaders at every level to ensure the focus stays on student performance, and not institutional funding battles. He will encourage universities to adopt value for money budgeting, while also providing honest assessments about how much the state can afford to fund higher education, so that universities aren’t caught off guard by changes in revenue from the state. The era of broken funding promises — much like the fiasco surrounding the Michigan Promise Scholarship program — will come to an end.

As governor, Snyder would work to make Michigan more attractive to young graduates across the state. On the campaign trail, Snyder often laments the loss of 70,000 University of Michigan and Michigan State University graduates to Chicago. His early support for urban renewal — particularly in Detroit — set him apart from other Republican candidates in the primary, and underscored his desire to work across party lines to make Michigan the ideal workplace for young citizens. Snyder’s emphasis on bringing innovative industries to the state will also raise demand for educated workers in Michigan, providing more graduates with better long-term career prospects.

A return to the politics and policies of the past isn’t going to move Michigan forward. A drastically simplified tax code will create surging business growth, not minor alterations to a fundamentally unsound formula. A bold, citizen-driven approach to budgeting will solve the annual fiscal crises, not the status quo and its debts to special interest groups. Fresh starts with educational and city leaders will put our students on a better path to 21st century careers, not continued reliance on jobs of a bygone era.

Today, only one man — a Michigan man — has the vision, plan and actions to make this turnaround happen. Vote Rick Snyder for governor.

Alexander Franz is the chair of Wolverines for Rick Snyder.

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