Rep. Lori debates Mike MorozPublished 7:45pm Thursday, October 25, 2012
CASSOPOLIS — Dowagiac will have a new state representative no matter who wins the 59th District House race Nov. 6.
Niles Republican Sharon Tyler of the 78th District has been Dowagiac’s voice in Lansing for the past four years.
Thanks to redistricting, Dowagiac moves into the 59th, where incumbent Rep. Matt Lori, R-Constantine, squared off Wednesday night at Cass County Council on Aging in a League of Women Voters debate with Democratic challenger Mike Moroz of Dowagiac.
Lori represents 90,000 citizens and supports a part-time Legislature in session “six to seven months, start to finish. My salary was reduced two years ago from $79,000 to $71,000, lifetime health care benefits have been eliminated and my office has been reduced 18 percent. Susan (Martin, chief of staff) took a $4,000 pay cut to keep my office running. There have been reductions, but further reductions can be made.”
“There needs to be shared sacrifice,” Moroz said, “and it sounds like the Legislature is headed that way.”
An issue which drew an especially sharp distinction between the candidates is legalizing industrial hemp.
“No,” said Lori, a former sheriff.
“It could be a whole new industry,” Moroz said. “Let’s not confuse it with smoked hemp. It’s not the boogeyman. It’s an industry waiting to take off. We could save trees by using hemp fiber. It’s a way to expand the economy.”
“The only way to gauge a representative is to look at his or her voting record,” Moroz said. “Matt has voted against teachers and public education, unions and women’s rights and to tax seniors’ pensions. Matt also supported voter suppression laws Gov. Snyder thought were overreaching. Matt voted for emergency manager legislation removing duly elected officials from power, all the while doing little to produce jobs. I urge you to go to votesmart.org. Also, he is a member of ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. Actions speak louder than words. My vote belongs to you, the people.”
Lori said the job entails long hours.
“Session days begin between 4:30 and 6 a.m., home nights about 9, numerous weekend and evening events, hosting coffee hours and visiting schools, businesses, churches and hospitals. I average 30,000 work miles a year. In 22 months I’ve been in the majority I have five public acts and working on number six — double bunking for sheriffs, quality assessments for nursing homes, acknowledgement of parenting from a Marcellus man, coverage for telemedicine services and Dominick’s law,” which could give Michigan the toughest child abuse laws in the nation.
“I work hard building relationships and trying to find solutions. I have been endorsed by the NRA, Farm Bureau, Michigan Association of Insurance Agents, Michigan Townships Association, Michigan Professional Firefighters Union, the Association of Police Organizations, the Small Business Association, Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan, Right to Life, Michigan Retailers Association, the County Road Association, Citizens for Traditional Values, Michigan Chamber of Commerce and Michigan Manufacturers. Healthy Kids Dental took effect in Cass County Oct. 1.”
Moroz said of the Affordable Care Act, “I’m thankful President Obama had the courage to put this plan into place. I think it’s going to help Michigan cut insurance costs while covering those of us who are not insured. We need to get on the fast track and implement these programs and not drag our political feet with arbitrary arguments. We’ve heard a lot of negative things, but I’m excited about preventive care stopping emergency room visits. Savings go back into the economy. There’s $4.4 million coming into Cass County (for Cassopolis Family Clinic).”
Lori said, “There are many positives and some negatives, such as mandatory coverage. The problem is, after three years the feds will start tapering it off. We’ve got a $16 trillion debt neither candidate is talking about. Like school funding, it’s not state money that’s been cut, it’s federal dollars coming in, and you’re going to see more reductions. Community health is an almost $15 billion budget, of which only about $3 billion is general fund. The rest is federal dollars. I have reservations on expanding unless we know how we’re going to pay for it three years from now.”
Moroz: “I have owned a small painting firm in Dowagiac since 1998. Michigan needs a middle class that has the money to buy goods and services. I’ve not seen any legislation that creates jobs. This idea of trickle down, taxing the middle class and lower-income people to give it all to large corporations and multi-millionaires to create jobs doesn’t work. We’ve tried that since the ’80s. They’re sitting on trillions of dollars. Most jobs have come from President Obama’s auto bailout. We need to keep money in the hands of the middle class, not tax breaks for the wealthy.”
Lori: Most notable was Republicans changing the Michigan Business Tax. Unemployment was 12.2 percent in 2009 and 7.8 percent in 2012. We’ve had 62 announcements in southwest Michigan of job growth, of which 70 percent comes from existing companies. We want to make sure they can do their job in a tax-friendly environment; 26 percent are recruited in and 4 percent come from entrepreneurs. We have to make sure we have capital, which goes hand in hand with business growth. Job growth we’re looking for in health care, science, engineering and technology, and you don’t create jobs by punishing job creators. You provide them with economic security. Michigan created 120,000 in the last two years, No. 1 in small business growth. We’ve made great strides.”
Moroz: “We need to make it easier. Legislation Matt voted for restricts voters’ rights, goes against our democracy and is appalling. About the only thing we have to really grab hold of in a democracy is to cast your vote. Obstructing it and making it more difficult disenfranchises people and tears away at the fabric of democracy itself. Voter suppression laws are not going to work and need to be repealed before we go backward. I am opposed to computer voting. I think we need actual ballots that can be counted with hacker fraud.”
Lori: “The apathy this country has for the issues, not only in Lansing but Washington, is very distressing. People need to take time to understand the issues and make an informed decision. The system is trying to stop fraud and abuse with some sort of documentation proving who you are, where you came from and where you belong. Not only voting, but to control health care costs.”
Lori: “The function of government is to protect those unable to do it themselves. My solution is to provide job development. People need a hand up, not a handout.”
Moroz: “In St. Joe County, about a quarter of children ages 0-17 are living in poverty; 58.9 percent are eligible for free and reduced price lunches, Michigan, 46.5 percent. I’m sure Cass is along the same lines and these numbers continue to get worse. Creating jobs should have been the priority over the last 20 months — not social issues, suppression or taking away women’s rights. These numbers are stark. This is America — not a third-world country.”
Moroz: “No fracking way. It’s a dangerous slippery slope. It injects chemicals into the bedrock we are not allowed to know because of a deal between the industry and government. Eventually, it’s going to go into our water. I know we need energy, but it’s a disaster waiting to happen without transparency.”
Lori: “If it’s done, it needs to be done right. As Mr. Moroz said, we are a Great Lakes state. Water is our greatest natural resource and we want to make sure it remains that way.”