Live chat with Bonnie Johnson, Mike Shirkey
11:02
Brian Wheeler: 
Good morning! State Rep. Mike Shirkey and challenger Bonnie Johnson are in our offices. For the next hour, they will answer questions. So, be polite and fire away!
Monday October 22, 2012 11:02 Brian Wheeler
11:05
[Comment From Bob WheatonBob Wheaton: ] 
I'm Bob Wheaton, political reporter for the Jackson Citizen Patriot. First of all, we'll give the candidates a chance to write three or four sentences about why they are running and why they are best for the job.
Monday October 22, 2012 11:05 Bob Wheaton
11:08
[Comment From Bonnie JohnsonBonnie Johnson: ] 
I'm running because of some of the biggest challenges that we're facing in our state. I feel creating jobs and good-paying jobs is a must, and we have to keep the jobs once we have them. We have to give our children a quality education in kindergarten through college, and we have to teach them to be well-rounded so they can compete in the global economy. I also want to run to protect the people's rights in our state. I feel I'm qualified. I have over 30 years of experience as a union leader, fighting for the rights and safety of our working, middle-class families. I have been involved in my community with a number of activities involving children, so I feel I know what they need to grow our education forces.
Monday October 22, 2012 11:08 Bonnie Johnson
11:08
[Comment From mike shirkeymike shirkey: ] 
I've had the privilege to serve as State Represetative for the 65th District for the last two years. Since assuming office in Jan 2011 my colleagues and I have been working with focus and determination to reform and reinvent Michigan. We have eliminated debt, presented two consecutive balanced budgets...without using financing gimmick...and have significantly improved Michigan's credit rating and overall tax rating according to independent sources. My personal and professional experience as a near life time resident of the greater Jackson area and business owner for over 25 years provides me with a unique and relevant perspective necessary to help lead Michigan. My wife and I have three married children and our tenth grandchild on the way. We are very blessed to have all of them working and living in the greater Jackson area.
Monday October 22, 2012 11:08 mike shirkey
11:09
[Comment From UndecidedUndecided: ] 
With the last debate tonight, which presidential candidate do you feel has been more effective during the debates and why?
Monday October 22, 2012 11:09 Undecided
11:11
[Comment From Bonnie JohnsonBonnie Johnson: ] 
I will be truthful. The first debate, I actually felt that Romney was more effective than Obama. On the second debate, I actually thought Obama came out ahead because he challenged a lot of what was said. I didn't care for the aggressive attitudes on both their parts, and I hope we won't see that again tonight.
Monday October 22, 2012 11:11 Bonnie Johnson
11:13
[Comment From Bonnie JohnsonBonnie Johnson: ] 
I do think Biden came out ahead in the vice presidential debate.
Monday October 22, 2012 11:13 Bonnie Johnson
11:13
[Comment From mike shirkeymike shirkey: ] 
No one would be surprised that I am a solid Romney supporter. Romney was clear winner in the first debate. President Obama, with the not so subtle help of the moderator, held his own in the second debate. Overall, despite claims otherwise, Romney has provided much more detail on what his agenda will be once elected. He has more executive leadership experience, knows how to work with diverse groups, has demonstrated an ability to work with Democratic leadership while serving as Governor in Ma., and has a proven record of identifying and solving problems.
Monday October 22, 2012 11:13 mike shirkey
11:14
[Comment From IneedworkIneedwork: ] 
what sorts of things can or should our state representatives be doing to help people find good paying jobs?
Monday October 22, 2012 11:14 Ineedwork
11:17
[Comment From Bonnie JohnsonBonnie Johnson: ] 
I actually like the system that our governor, Snyder, put in place to find good-paying jobs. I think we need to fund Michigan Works, to let Michigan Works expand programs, and to get involved with our colleges, to help people find good-paying jobs. I think he, Snyder, has set up a good program to help people, so I'll give him that. With education, we need to train the children on how to fill out resumers and give them a well-rounded education so they can explore the workforce.
Monday October 22, 2012 11:17 Bonnie Johnson
11:17
[Comment From Bob WheatonBob Wheaton: ] 
If anyone participating in this chat would like to find out the candidates' views on issues, here's a link that will take you to our coverage of the 65th State House race. We had stories last week that detailed the candidates views on issues. Here is the link: http://topics.mlive.com/tag/Mike%20Shirkey/index.html
Monday October 22, 2012 11:17 Bob Wheaton
11:21
[Comment From mike shirkeymike shirkey: ] 
Continue doing what we have been doing. Eliminating unnecessary regulation, providing a predictable and competitive tax structure for business, and holding government more accountable for taxpayer money. These things, along with others, establish an environment where people and businesses find it attractive to invest........and investment and risk taking are the root of all sustainable jobs and careers. We have a very high tech Michigan web site listing talent and job openings....which there are currently over 70,000 listed. Unfortunately, Michigan has a temporay disconnect between many job openings and how we have been educating and training our young people. We are moving in a direction of placing more emphasis on life long learning, including and especially in trades fields, and less specific focus on making sure everyone gets a college degree. Lastly, we MUST not by shy about our manufacturing heritage and rich resources of skilled labor and ability to design and build anything. Michigan can be as competitive as anywhere when it comes to manufacturing.
Monday October 22, 2012 11:21 mike shirkey
11:22
[Comment From Bob WheatonBob Wheaton: ] 
Is Michigan's economy and job market better, worse or the same as it was two years ago, when Rep. Shirkey took office? How so?
Monday October 22, 2012 11:22 Bob Wheaton
11:26
[Comment From UnmovedUnmoved: ] 
It is better but as a result of President Obama's efforts and nothing that Mr. Shirkey or the Republican Party has done.
Monday October 22, 2012 11:26 Unmoved
11:26
[Comment From Bonnie JohnsonBonnie Johnson: ] 
I think our economy is starting to pick up. The auto industry has created tens of thousands of jobs with their comeback, and jobs have been ricocheting off the comeback. So, I think it has definitely picked up, and I think that is due to the bailout from Obama of the auto industry. If we had lost the auto industry, our economy would definitely be going backward instead forward, and those are the sort of jobs we want to keep. I haven't seen much improvement in jobs from the legislation that has been passed in the last year and a half. In fact, most of the policies have drained money out of the middle-class pockets, which has hurt our economy. Some of the tax credits that people could use, like the Earned Income Credit and the Homestead Property Act, these are going to affect our economy after the first of the year, when that money does not come back into our economy. We have to make sure that we keep good-paying jobs and tax breaks for the middle class so they can put the money back into the economy and help our small businesses. Those are the backbone and the engine to our economy.
Monday October 22, 2012 11:26 Bonnie Johnson
11:27
[Comment From mike shirkeymike shirkey: ] 
Michigan has added more private sector jobs in the last two years than any other state in the nation. Michigan has the highest rate of increase of per capita income in the midwest. Michigan has led the midwest in reduction in unemployment rate....though I will openly point out it remains far too high. As pointed out earlier, we have dramatically improved our overall tax structure which has led to increased investment in a wide array of businesses in Michigan. But we are not finished yet. We are clearly better off then two years ago........but not good enough.
Monday October 22, 2012 11:27 mike shirkey
11:27
[Comment From ablerooneableroone: ] 
Question for Mike Shirkey...With your staunch Anti Union Agenda, how can you say you are representing all of the good people of the 65th?
Monday October 22, 2012 11:27 ableroone
11:29
Brian Wheeler: 
Let's rephrase for both candidates' sake: What is your view on Proposal 2? Do you support right to work? And how does your viewpoint, whatever it is, best serve the district?
Monday October 22, 2012 11:29 Brian Wheeler
11:31
[Comment From Bonnie JohnsonBonnie Johnson: ] 
I fully support Proposal 2. I actually went out and collected 4,000 signatures for it. I feel Proposal 2 is on the ballot because of over 100 anti-union bills that have been passed in the last two years against the working class by our legislators. It has everything to do with collective bargaining and having your right to organize. The legislation that has been passed takes away our rights.
Monday October 22, 2012 11:31 Bonnie Johnson
11:35
[Comment From mike shirkeymike shirkey: ] 
Proposal 2 is one of the most dangerous proposals on our ballot in November. We have solid, robust laws at the state and federal level that provide well established protections for workers, specficially regarding collective bargaining. Our PERA laws in Michigan and the National Labor Relations Act provide clear and excellent protections for collective bargaining. Proposal 2 is primarily focused on public sector workers (and unions) and is intended to virtually eliminate any chance for legislative oversight when it comes to budgets, taxpayer spending, and quality protections we all expect from government. Further, Proposal 2 puts over 170 past labor laws into question which will lead to long, drawn out legal actions and law suits...casting nothing but uncertainty onto our economic landscape. Any positive momentum we have created in the last two years with regards to economic and jobs growth will be severely compromised if Proposal 2 passes.
Monday October 22, 2012 11:35 mike shirkey
11:36
[Comment From Bob WheatonBob Wheaton: ] 
For the information of readers, Proposal 2 would essentially enshrine collective bargaining rights into the state constitution. Right-to-work laws prohibit workers from being required to join a union or pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment.
Monday October 22, 2012 11:36 Bob Wheaton
11:37
[Comment From Bonnie JohnsonBonnie Johnson: ] 
I definitely do not support a right-work state. With unemployment rates, seven of the bottom 10 are right-to-work states. In right-to-work states, families earn an average of $1,500 to $2,000 less a year. The benefits in the right-to-work states are lower and often do not include family members. Injuries are higher in right-to-work states, and it basically makes the people at-will employees who can be terminated at any time, even to give people a friend in place of theirs. There's no job security in a right-to-work state. It turns it into a right-to-work-for-less state. Few to no benefits. Unsafe work environments.It gives all the advantages to the corporations, and money does not trickle down in a right-to-work state. Companies do not make a decision on whether to move in, whether it's a right-to-work or no They look at infrastructure, the quality of the workforce, safe communities, tax advantages, just to name a few.
Monday October 22, 2012 11:37 Bonnie Johnson
11:40
[Comment From mike shirkeymike shirkey: ] 
Regarding Right to Work, I prefer to call it Labor Freedom. Labor Freedom is an environment described as: "where unions are as FREE to make their CASE as workers are to make their CHOICE". Some prefer to label me as anti-union but fall short of actually doing the research to find out what my personal stance is regarding unions. Collective bargaining and the right to belong to a union is something I defend heartily. I also equally defend a person's right to not belong or support a union. They are equal and important rights.
Monday October 22, 2012 11:40 mike shirkey
11:40
[Comment From UnmovedUnmoved: ] 
Bob noone now is "required to join" a union or pay dues if they do not want to. Unions however, are required to represent non-union workers in some places despite their lack of membership or dues. This is a "Right-to-Work" Fallacy pushed by business owners like Mike Shirkey.
Monday October 22, 2012 11:40 Unmoved
11:43
Brian Wheeler: 
We're finding that some readers are asking questions intended for one candidate. While we understand the interest, we also want both Bonnie and Mike to be able to answer, so that voters can compare and contrast their viewpoints.
Monday October 22, 2012 11:43 Brian Wheeler
11:43
[Comment From mike shirkeymike shirkey: ] 
Lastly, regarding how my position and voting record support Michigan (and the 65th District) I would simply refer to the modest but measurable gains we have accomplished in jobs creation and income growth. The aggregate result of all the legislation we have initiated and passed in the last two years is positive and trending the same...but as I pointed out before, not good enough yet.
Monday October 22, 2012 11:43 mike shirkey
11:43
[Comment From Bob WheatonBob Wheaton: ] 
Here is a question for both candidates: What do you think is the biggest difference between you and your opponent as far as your political beliefs?
Monday October 22, 2012 11:43 Bob Wheaton
11:50
[Comment From Bonnie JohnsonBonnie Johnson: ] 
I believe the government should be for the people, not for the corporations. I represented and have always represented the middle, working-class people and the lower-income, working families. I believe in protecting their rights, and there's been too many bills passed that either take away their rights, such as the emergency manager bill, and the numerous bills that have attacked the working-class families and their rights to organize. Attacks on our school systems, which have removed hundreds of thousands of dollars from each school system, has caused larger class sizes, reduced jobs, and made it so our school systems cannot afford the technologies to teach our children. Protecting our school systems is one of the biggest reasons I'm running.
Monday October 22, 2012 11:50 Bonnie Johnson
11:52
[Comment From Bonnie JohnsonBonnie Johnson: ] 
I believe our economy can only recover when the middle class recovers and when small businesses recover. Corporations and large businesses do bring jobs, but they do not bring secure jobs. Too often, they leave our state after only a few years, devastating our community. Therefore, I think we ought to put some restrictions on corporate and big-business tax credits they receive to make sure they stay in our communities.
Monday October 22, 2012 11:52 Bonnie Johnson
11:53
[Comment From mike shirkeymike shirkey: ] 
There are a number of differences between us. First is experience. I have been blessed with an excellent education and very wide spread professional and business experiences. Second is a record of performance. With the help of a great team, we are celebrating our 25th anniversary at Orbitform this year. This despite all the obstacles government tends to create. Third, it is my fundamental belief that government should play a minor role in the lives of citizens....not a lead role. Government should focus on providing a safe environment, either for individuals or for businesses, but not a prescriptive role. It is my belief liberty and freedom are the most precious rights we enjoy in America and governments' role should be primarily focused on protecting these rights. My opponent tends to believe government is the solution to all problems but our sensibilites and history demonstrate differently.
Monday October 22, 2012 11:53 mike shirkey
11:54
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
Question for Mr. Shirkey, I have been retired for 4 years now and worked hard for my pension, as many retirees. I fall squarely into your group of retirees that you feel needs to pay pension tax (born in 1954). How can you justify that my pension is more taxable than someone born in 1947 or any other year? Due you plan to include all retiree’s pensions are taxable in your following term? If not why not?
Monday October 22, 2012 11:54 Guest
11:55
Brian Wheeler: 
We'd like to hear what both candidates have to say about the tax on pensions that the Legislature approved.
Monday October 22, 2012 11:55 Brian Wheeler
11:58
[Comment From Bonnie JohnsonBonnie Johnson: ] 
I do not believe in the taxing of seniors' pensions. They have worked very hard and long, and been promised their pensions would be tax-free. To do so at a later date, as they are getting ready to retire, without sitting down and bargaining, is like lying to the people and denying them their promises they were promised. I believe in repealing the tax on seniors' pensions. I am retired from the state and receive a pension. My pension comes to a total of a little over $21,000, so they are taxing about $1,000 of my pension. It is not one of the biggest reasons why I'm running, but was certainly one of the reasons.
Monday October 22, 2012 11:58 Bonnie Johnson
11:59
[Comment From Bonnie JohnsonBonnie Johnson: ] 
To take from seniors on a set income, to give to big corporations and businesses, is a disgrace to our state.
Monday October 22, 2012 11:59 Bonnie Johnson
12:05
[Comment From mike shirkeymike shirkey: ] 
When I assumed office making changes in the pension tax system was not on my radar. Nor was it on the list for Governor Snyder. Having the courage to address structural problems, regardless of how long they have been in place, is hardly ever popular. When we were evaluating Michigan's overall tax policies, with the purpose of improving the climate in Michigan for investment, we discovered the wide discrepancies in how various pensions and retirement incomes are taxed. Frankly, I was not thrilled about creating separate categories of taxation based on age. But I was supportive of making changes that make our tax system more simple, fair, and efficient. What I will begin working on, immediately in a second term, is to move in a direction of eliminating income tax in Michigan and base our tax system on a consumption tax concept versus income. We should appreciate and promote income, at any level, and not punish it by taxing higher. I fully understand why people affected by the changes in taxes are disappointed. However ,in just about every case, when given a chance to explain how we arrived at the decisions we made, there is ususally a common understanding...though not always agreement.
Monday October 22, 2012 12:05 mike shirkey
12:06
[Comment From UnmovedUnmoved: ] 
Please change your false advertising. This should be "Brian Wheeler questions the candidates"
Monday October 22, 2012 12:06 Unmoved
12:06
[Comment From Bob WheatonBob Wheaton: ] 
We're running out of time, but we'd like to thank Mr. Shirkey and Ms. Johnson for participating. Thanks to the readers who submitted questions. Due to time constraints, we weren't able to pose all of the reader questions.
Monday October 22, 2012 12:06 Bob Wheaton
12:07
[Comment From Bonnie JohnsonBonnie Johnson: ] 
I'd like to thank everybody who participated in the questions. I found it interesting and informative. Thank you for putting this on, and thank you, Mike Shirkey, for participating.
Monday October 22, 2012 12:07 Bonnie Johnson
12:07
[Comment From mike shirkeymike shirkey: ] 
Good exchange. I am interested in learning how many people were engaged and reading the comments/questions. Appreciate the Citizens Patriot for being active and providing the opportunity.
Monday October 22, 2012 12:07 mike shirkey
 
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