Whitmer’s resolve competes with Dixon’s cuts at Detroit economic forum

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Republican Tudor Dixon presented their platforms to the Detroit Economic Club on Friday afternoon, arguing that the state government is either putting the pieces in place to lead Michigan to prosperity or is just getting in the way.

As incumbent, Whitmer both touted her own record, saying “we’ve made tremendous strides” amid years of turmoil, while pledging to build on the work done in her first term and deliver on initiatives that will have long-term growth after Michigan.

“Let’s move forward in a way that is fair, creates opportunity for all, and strengthens our economy and makes Michigan a great place to grow and solve the world’s problems,” Whitmer said.

Dixon, meanwhile, had a number of examples where the state government hadn’t encouraged growth, whether Whitmer’s government had stymied growth, or regulations got in the way. Michigan’s shaky economy is rooted in Whitmer’s public health decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dixon has long argued, promising to cut 40% of state regulations and cut income taxes to 0% during his tenure.

Related: Whitmer and Dixon offer different visions of Michigan’s path out of the pandemic in the first debate

She said her candidacy has “an opportunity to bring the American dream back to the state of Michigan.”

“Michigan is on track right now, either getting into a situation where we’re losing more businesses and more population, or improving our education, making sure our cities are safe, making sure we’re where we’re going Companies turn when they say, ‘we want to expand, we want to grow,'” Dixon said.

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According to the organizer, the focus of the questions was on business and economics. However, this has raised questions about education, workforce development, infrastructure, college affordability, and population growth—all issues that impact the business environment and are important to the election.

The contestants were asked the same questions, and after Whitmer won a coin toss to speak first, Dixon was not in the room, giving neither contestant a chance to refute the other’s answers.

Whitmer also had taxes she had cut, citing sales taxes on gasoline and the state pension tax, ideas the Republican-led legislature was unwilling to embrace in favor of their own proposals. Dixon said she would also increase the child tax credit and put a holiday on the state’s gas tax, and slapped Whitmer for not embarking on legislative plans the governor dismissed as fiscally irresponsible.

None of them elaborated on how they would explain the potentially significant reduction in revenue that cuts to the state budget would create, or economists’ argument that tax cuts can worsen inflation.

Keeping the Line 5 Strait of Mackinac oil pipeline open, Dixon said, would keep fuel costs down, an argument experts have dismissed.

Whitmer emphasized that she is committed to bringing more EV production to Michigan, with a focus on the batteries that power them.

“When we think about securing our economic future, we build batteries,” Whitmer said. “Where batteries are built, the rest of the electric vehicle must also be assembled.”

Whitmer has long sought to restore the state to economic power. The main draws for new Michigan businesses and residents, Whitmer said, will be the freedoms workers can enjoy, including reproductive rights — assuming Proposal 3 is passed by voters — and Michigan’s projected future as a climate haven given its abundant fresh water and its relatively stable location climate.

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Related: Education, climate change and the economy are high on the list of priorities for Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s re-election

“We’re already seeing the Colorado (river) drying up, we’re seeing the Mississippi (river) drying up, we’re seeing incredible climate events devastating life in the southern states,” she said. “The whole world will want to come here or take our water. We can not permit that. But what we can do is have a strategic plan for population growth and the management of our natural resources.”

On the other hand, Dixon has been lukewarm at best about the business and tax stimulus that played a role in attracting some big investments to Michigan this year. She slammed the taxpayer money going into the proposed Big Rapids battery plant as the company hails from China to get a foothold there.

With the overall reduction in bureaucracy, Dixon argued, incentives would be less needed in the first place.

“If we reduce regulation in this state, a lot more people will step up to become small business owners,” Dixon said, addressing the pandemic recovery. “It’s difficult for these companies to come back when the regulatory state is such that we’re putting billions of dollars worth of investments on hold for months.”

Dixon cited Whitmer’s rejection of the lakefront casino in Muskegon, a controversial project that had been in limbo for years.

Related: “Back to Basics:” Tudor Dixon’s Strategy for Michigan’s Schools, Police and Government

Whitmer noted in her segment that even setting aside the pandemic recovery, Michigan had experienced the fastest period of small business growth in the state’s history.

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On education, both candidates want individual tutoring for Michigan students to improve the state’s test scores, which have been declining since the pandemic.

However, Dixon failed to mention the culture wars issues she highlighted on the campaign trail, blaming them in part for Michigan’s poor academic performance in the wake of the pandemic.

She also focused on raising teachers’ salaries, increasing parent involvement and ensuring that “the dollars follow the kid,” in other words, redirecting funds to where students attend school, including private schools.

Read more on MLive:

A Michigan Senator’s sermon and the sin of spreading stolen election lies

Republicans are still waiting for Tudor Dixon recruiting cavalry

Michigan’s closest US home races report lopsided fundraising

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