|Brad Hantler is a graduate of Olberlin College, where he was chairman of the College Republicans and worked as a research assistant while getting his bachelor’s degree in political science. He has been involved with ALS of Michigan, Yad Ezra Food Bank, and J-Serve. He is a lifelong member of Adat Shalom.|
Six Republicans — Albert Clawson, Brad Hantler, Nicholas Kennedy, Klint Kesto, Bubba Urdan and Kristine Zrinyi — are competing in the Tuesday, Aug. 7 GOP primary election for the state House of Representatives 39th District. The winner will face the winner of the Democratic nomination on Nov. 6. State representatives serve two-year terms and are currently paid $71,685 annually.
The following are questions our staff recently posed to Hantler and his response to those questions.
BUDGET: After years of 11th-hour approvals of state budgets and criticisms of kicking the can down the road on critical fiscal issues, lawmakers have in two consecutive years passed spending plans that have scaled back state spending through tough cuts in certain areas. If elected to the state House of Representatives, what would be your budgeting priorities and why? Do you believe further cuts are needed, and if so, where? Please state where, if anywhere, investments in key areas are necessary?
HANTLER: My first budget move would be to move Michigan to a part-time Legislature.
There is zero evidence that these supposedly full-time lawmakers serve our state any better than those in the clearly part-time states. To the contrary, Michigan has been losing jobs and younger workers like me to fast growing states where the political class is much less costly. They include: Arizona ($24,000); Florida ($30,336); Nevada (less than $140 a day); Georgia ($17,342); South Carolina ($10,400); and Texas ($7,200). Michigan (lawmakers are) currently paid over $70,000 a year.
EDUCATION: Officials representing public school districts have decried what they have said amounted to a $470 per-pupil decrease in education funding instituted during the first year of the 96th state legislative session, particularly when districts had already been grappling with serious structural deficits in the years leading up to implementation of the 2011-12 fiscal year budget. Tell us what you believe needs to be done to be sure our schools are funded adequately. Aside from funding issues, what reforms to the state’s educational system are needed to ensure Michigan’s children receive the education they deserve?
HANTLER: This answer is very simple. We need more choice and competition within our schools. Students will flock to the better schools, which will result in teachers and administrators working harder for their students.
PERSONAL PROPERTY TAX: A spate of measures to either repeal or phase out the state’s personal property tax (PPT) have received the attention of both chambers of the state Legislature this year, prompting concerns among some about how those dollars would be replaced for local communities reliant on PPT revenues. Do you support a repeal or phase-out of the PPT? Why or why not? If a repeal or phase-out is passed, how, if at all, should the state replace those revenues for local units of government?
HANTLER: Immediately repealing the PPT would really leave local communities in a lurch. I want to begin phasing it out now.
The revenues would not need to be replaced by any further taxes. Money saved by moving to a part-time Legislature could be returned to the cities. Additionally, (local) government will learn to do more with less, the same way families across Michigan have.
MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Four years after the passage of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA) following voter approval in the 2008 general election with overwhelming support, local communities are still grappling with its impacts and how to go about addressing its provisions. Explain why you do or don’t believe additional regulations or measures need to be implemented for the MMMA? Do you believe a recent proposal in the state House of Representatives calling for the legalization of so-called “dispensaries” has merit? Why or why not?
HANTLER: I oppose medical marijuana in its entirety.
ROAD FUNDING FORMULA: The state’s current road funding distribution formula places more emphasis on the miles of roadway in a county than on traffic density, which tends to favor rural, out-state counties. Please explain why you do or don’t believe that scenario is appropriate. What funding distribution formula changes, if any, should be implemented? Explain why you do or don’t support increases in state fuel taxes to close the gap between available funding and infrastructure needs?
HANTLER: I think traffic density should be taken into consideration (instead of) miles of roadway. I oppose raising state fuel taxes. I rarely, if ever, see an instance where raising taxes is an answer.
TOP ISSUES: What are the three most important issues for the district at this time, and how do you propose to address them?
HANTLER: No. 1, growing the economy/jobs (by) lowering taxes and regulations to compete with neighboring states
No. 2, reforming public education (by) expanding school choice and reducing power from the unions
No. 3, growth of government. Move Michigan to a part-time Legislature.
WHY YOU? Why specifically should voters choose you over your opponent?
HANTLER: Since I am not beholden to special interests, I am prepared “rock the boat” when necessary to move Michigan forward. My over-arching message is that legislatures need to understand government spends not its own money, but the peoples’ money raised through taxes.
I’m young, I’m energetic, and I want to make a difference. I will not go to Lansing and sit on my hands.