Driskell, Ouimet Don't See Eye-to-Eye on campaign issues

Race for 52nd District pits two opposite visions against each other.

Time is growing short for the fall campaign across the state as various races are heating up.

That is especially true for the 52nd District race where Saline Mayor Gretchen Driskell is trying to unseat incumbent Mark Ouimet. Both candidates are upbeat heading into final turn and see victory on the horizon.

The challenge for Democrat Driskell is to find a way to get her message out that the state needs to rethink its priorities and focus more on funding schools and shifting the tax burden away from people and back to businesses.

“Lansing has made some bad decisions,” she said. “It’s not just Saline, Manchester has been hit hard and other districts are dipping into their fund balances.”

The 53-year-old candidate said she is pro-business and stands on her 20 years as a member of the Saline City Council, including 14 years as mayor, as testimony to her growth policies. She favors cutting red tape to make it easier for businesses to move to the state.

She wants Gov. Rick Snyder to come up with a plan to identify sources of funding for communities if the personal property tax is eliminated. The tax accounts for 20 percent of Saline’s budget.

Her main thrust is the state has erred in cutting funding to the 15 public universities it supports. The 15 percent cuts come at a time when the state needs highly educated residents to stay and help rebuild the economy.

“We have to bring young talent to the state,” she said. “We have to be a destination state.”

Schools are a leading factor in a person’s decision to move somewhere, she said. She believes only a full restoration of funding can help maintain the state’s schools and make them attractive to outsiders.

As for her thoughts on Republican Ouimet, she was short.

“I don’t feel like he’s representing the district,” Driskell said. “His focus- which is shifting the tax burden to the people proves he doesn’t”

Driskell also feels Snyder has dropped the ball with eliminating funding for Brownfield development and cutting film subsidies.

Getting rid of the Michigan Business Tax was a good thing, but she felt it went too far.

Ouimet, on the other hand, is excited about a return to Lansing. He believes the governor when Snyder calls Michigan the comeback state.

His priorities are jobs and education and he believes he has delivered on those issues.

“We are on the move,” he said. “We are the comeback state, but we have more work to be done.”

From his perspective the reforms instituted by Gov. Rick Snyder have led to the removal of duplications of services which adds value to the tax dollars.

The recent decision by the state House and Senate to cap retirement funding by schools at 24.75 percent will put money back in the hands of the districts. He estimates the decision will mean $8 million for schools statewide and $800,000 to Saline Area Schools alone.

As for the cuts to higher education, Ouimet sees the state’s action as restraining tuition increases.

“The 15 public universities understand how important it is to hold down tuition increases,” he said. “We can start filling the gap.”

The repeal of the Michigan Business Tax was another good idea, Ouimet said. Two years ago small businesses got hit with a 23 percent surcharge. Now 95,000 small businesses and limited liability corporations pay the same income tax rate as individuals do.

“We are seeing (companies) hiring people and adding equipment,” Ouimet said. “The major Fortune 500 companies in our state (Ford, Dow and Whirlpool) have seen their taxes go up; larger corporations are paying slightly more.”

Ouimet said he doesn’t spend time worrying about his opponent, instead he working to keep the positive changes going.

He sees schools getting more money, the business climate improving and a general positive energy.

“We can’t kick the can down the road,” he said. “We are seeing positive results.

SCOOBYDOO August 26, 2012 at 01:37 PM
Sorry Gretchen, my vote will be for Mark. Pretty much everything you stand for, I stand against. Good luck, you are going to get smoked.
John Carter August 26, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Gretchen has no vision, no real solutions, just "restore" what has been taken away. She just speaks the liberal Democratic speak, tax and spend, and says the opposite of Mark. Most of us feel Mark is representing us just fine. My vote is for Mark.
John Baublit August 26, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Ouimet voted to tax my pension, voted to double my health insurance premium, and his votes increased my son's college tuition. I won't forget come this November who justified taking a significant amount of my income away while I was already in the retirement pipeline and can do nothing to recover. Ouimet didn't kick the can down the road as he states, he kicked senior citizens like me down the road!
Just the facts August 26, 2012 at 04:03 PM
Come on John, you don't even live in Ouimet's district. In your role @ Pioneer you recruited 1% folks to provide work study jobs for your students and now you trash them on any blog you can find. Nothing wrong with being a shill for the MEA like Gretchen, Jeff Irwin, etc. just admit it. Big fat bennies for teachers or dollars in the classroom??????? Thank you Mark Ouimet! A retirement plan that is broke robbing our children of education dollars. Mark Ouimet is part of the fix...the solution. Gretchen just keeps parroting the MEA talking points. Jeff Irwin and Gretchen the Ken and Barbie of Ann Arbor liberalism!
Ron August 26, 2012 at 04:20 PM
It's quite odd that folks fail to understand how the republican "talking points" have actually cost us more money out of pocket in recent years. The increases in taxes, fees, surcharges and tuition are the DIRECT result of the actions of people like Mark Ouimet. The first two comments speak exactly to my point, rather than deal with facts and specific legislation, we see comments like ".. Everything you stand for, I stand against". Really Scooby? You're against affordable tuition and sensible ways to pay taxes and fund our local government and the services we all need on a daily basis? Standing up and simply saying "no" or calling people names as John Carter did accomplishes nothing and only promotes partisan ideology over common sense solutions. I prefer meaningful bi-partisan debate of the FACTS,, not empty rhetoric that solves nothing. We've seen too much of that from the republicans in Lansing. Gretchen will bring fresh ideas and energy to the job of helping ALL citizens achieve their dreams.
dexter August 26, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Mark Ouimet has been an exemplary bipartisan leader by including people and opinions from all sides in getting to real, effective solutions. If you don't believe me, see the article below about how he earned the Legislator of the Year award: http://www.annarbor.com/news/rep-mark-ouimet-named-michigan-township-association-legislator-of-the-year/#.UDqDgNb8t2A
SCOOBYDOO August 26, 2012 at 11:09 PM
John, For those of us poor smucks in the private sector that don't have pensions and have to fund our own 401k's ( and no my company does not match anything on my 401k), we have to pay taxes once we begin to withdraw from our 401k's. So if we get taxed then it should be no different for you. You are maybe 60 years old , are retired and have healthcare till you die for yourself and your spouse. You also have a very handsome pension for life along with the healthcare, all paid for by those of us who will never enjoy the retirement lifestyle you now have. How is it fair that those that employed you through their hard earned dollars will never come close to having it good like you do. You public sector folks have a very unrealistic and pathetic sense of entitlement, it smacks of narcissism in a big way.
Stephen Hankamp August 27, 2012 at 12:11 AM
Mark in a rout! Feel sorry for this woman from Saline who is being used/abused by the left in running against Mark. I think Mark is just going easy on her not wanting to embarrass her too much in her home town. Nice class shown by Mark.
John Carter August 27, 2012 at 02:07 AM
@Ron, please re-read my post and tell me what "name calling" I did ?!? And then tell me one "fresh idea" that Gretchen is proposing...I've scanned everything and can't find any. Mark and the legislature along with Synder achieved more to move Michigan forward than any of Jenny's "blow you away" years.
Patrick Bateman August 27, 2012 at 01:22 PM
The problem with the pension tax is that very few people really understand it. Most pension will not be taxed, and those that are will be taxed at a specific level. If Michigan were the only state to do this I would understand why you are upset. However, there are only two other states that DO NOT tax pensions. Over the past 20 months, Michigan has started to make a comeback. Tough choices were made and most of them were not easy. However, we are starting to see the benefits of these changes. I will be supporting Mark in November and anyone who wants to see Michigan to make progress should do so as well.
David August 27, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Let me make sure I get this right...the article said Mayor Driskell wanted to "focus more on funding schools and shifting the tax burden away from people and back to businesses." Saline has over 21 staff members that make over $100,000!! Almost 200 staff members make $80,000 or more a year! I'm sure these employees also enjoy great benefits, retirement, and work 8-10 months of the year not including holidays. Don't get me wrong, our schools are great and we appreciate our teachers...but these teacher wages are unrealistic and unsustainable. This is the residents tax burden, the schools and out of control public sector spending. http://jaymcnally.com/saline-area-schools-employee-wages-for-2010/
Billy Buchanan August 28, 2012 at 01:29 AM
Mark, keep up the good work. You got my vote. Driskell would probly do as bad in Lansing as she has in Saline. Billy Buchanan Saline
John Prester September 29, 2012 at 12:15 AM
I love how oumet talks out of both sides of his mouth. he's for keeping tuition down, so he cuts state funding for universities. No problem, we'll "fill the hole" later. He's also for lower taxes, even though he raised them. I hope he's not in favor of public safety or clean water, we can't afford anymore of his kind of help. He's a great politician.


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