ESCANABA – The two Democratic candidates for State Senate in the 38th District differ on how they would deal with possible state spending cuts. Their comments were made during a candidate forum in Escanaba Wednesday.
Christopher Germain of Escanaba said he would cut spending across the board while Chris LaMarche of Gladstone said he would focus more on job creation because spending cuts have hurt Michigan.
“While I believe there is still waste out there I think we are going about trying to find it in the wrong way,” LaMarche said. “I will give you a hint. It’s not the people working on the ground. My dad works at the Marquette Branch Prison. They have been cutting staff, they privatized food service and it’s just not working. It’s not saving us any money and it’s not getting us a quality program.”
To promote job creation, LaMarche says he would first concentrate on reliable Internet and phone service. Without that, he says, people won’t be able to work in the U.P. As a recent Michigan State University graduate in biology, LaMarche said another thing that can be done is to develop research centers in the U.P.
“Up here we have a lot of opportunity to research things. The federal government spends a lot of money in grants on research. I think we need to get some great research facilities right here in the U.P. That would bring in lots of good high paying jobs and help bring our youth back to the Upper Peninsula,” he said.
Germain said waste in government can never be completely eliminated. He feels all departments could be cut. But he also proposes raising money by taxing corporations and controlling welfare spending.
“One of things I’ve talked about is to bring more revenue in with a tax increase on larger corporations but also to cut back on areas like any welfare assistance that we give out that we know there is abuse to that system. If we could change that system to not include things like pop, candy, things like that. We can cut out the waste in those types of programs,” Germain said.
Job growth, he said, can be encouraged by developing more tech and support centers in the U.P.
“We also need to partner with community colleges and our universities to try and set up more smart zones. We need more of those in the Upper Peninsula to help foster new industry,” Germain added.
Germain and LaMarche are running in Democratic primary on August 5. The winner will challenge State Sen. Tom Casperson of Escanaba.
During the candidate forum, both said they supported Proposal 1 to eliminate personal property taxes on businesses. They also both supported mining in the U.P. Germain said he was not in favor of an increase in the state’s gas tax to repair roads in Michigan while LaMarche said he viewed the gas tax as a user fee which he is in favor of but wants to look more at the potential impact in the state.
The forum was sponsored by the Delta County League of Women Voters, the American Association of University Women and the Delta Chamber of Commerce.