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Michigan attorney general visits the Lakeshore day after entering governor race

Marie Havenga • Sep 14, 2017 at 10:00 AM

NORTON SHORES — Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced his candidacy for governor Tuesday night and wasted little time hitting the campaign trail.

On Wednesday, the Republican from Midland made stops in Traverse City, Cadillac, Norton Shores, Grand Rapids and Holland. In Norton Shores, Schuette led a roundtable discussion with area business leaders at the Hines Corp. off Pontaluna Road.

Schuette said he is advocating for reductions in auto insurance premiums, which rank among the highest in the country, and reducing the state income tax rate from 4.25 to 3.9 percent. He said he's focused on giving Michigan residents “a pay raise” with his proposed initiatives.

“I have a responsibility to be a good listener,” Schuette told those gathered in the Hines conference room, before asking them for their ideas. “The better listener and learner I am, the better governor I will be.”

Casting himself as a “jobs” governor, he asked area business leaders for their ideas on how to improve Michigan's manufacturing community.

Several locals asked for a reduction in regulations and more streamlining of state bureaucracy.

Manufacturing leaders said the problem isn't a lack of jobs, it's a lack of qualified people to fill them.

Some suggested putting more focus on vocational schools and skill centers.

John Swanson, owner of Swanson's Pickles in Ravenna, told Schuette that too much focus has been put on kids going to college and not enough on them learning skilled trades.

Several leaders said current state education mandates are not in line with business principles and allow little time for students to take electives, such as wood or machine shop. 

Swanson said a class at a skill center should count toward graduation credits the same as a science class at high school. He also said the state test mandates are counterproductive.

“The (education system) is not performance based, it's test based,” Swanson said. “That's not the way you run a business.”

Another manufacturing leader said some high school kids don't even know how a screwdriver works.

Kevin Even, a Muskegon attorney, encouraged Schuette to consider setting up technical high schools throughout the state.

Business leaders told Schuette they are not in favor of legalizing marijuana, an issue that is likely to appear on an upcoming state ballot. They also encouraged Schuette to try to do something about the opioid addiction problem that is taking the lives of many Michigan residents.

Following an hour-long discussion, Schuette toured Bennett Pumps, a subsidiary of Hines Corp. The gubernatorial candidate looked at hydrogen dispensing pumps and gasoline pumps as he introduced himself to employees and asked them details about their jobs.

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