|Bubba Urdan is the director of business development for Statewide Disaster Restoration. He is also the director of marketing for The Print House, Inc. He has volunteered for The Parade Company and has been on the boards for ORT Michigan, Jewish Federation Apartments, the Jewish Community Center, and others. He opened a retail clothing business at 18 that eventually turned into a wholesale distribution company, which he remains involved in.|
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 Urdan 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?
URDAN: I will look at the budget with a perspective on the people. Right away, (the Department of) Corrections should privatize (its) food service and save approximately $25 million per year off the $2 billion budget. Keep in mind there are many programs that may be funded to support agencies and organizations, but it may not always be the only way to get the same result.
You might be able to save on purchasing if the whole state bought as a buying group. I know more often than not, business likes doing business with the government because the contracts are usually a good profit percentage and they are guaranteed payment. We should think of the state’s budget as our own budget and squeeze every nickel out of it so we are not spending the people’s money recklessly.
Cuts are great but let’s do it with thought and strategically so we can rebuild our state and bring jobs back to Michigan without burdening business and the people with high taxes. At the end of the day, we need to address the issues and make the tough choices while honoring our obligations to our seniors and not getting into bad contracts going forward.
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?
URDAN: There is no doubt in my mind that throwing money at this problem is not the solution. If schools are underfunded, we must find money, but let’s make sure we are doing this right. All throughout Commerce, I have heard the voters say that kids are being taught to take a test — the MEAP (Michigan Education Assessment Program). If this is true, we must change this. We must educate our kids and prepare them for tomorrow (through) early childhood education. Children are sponges at 2- to 4-years-old. Let’s use our buildings and get them in there to learn and prepare them properly while giving their parents the opportunity to go out and get a job if they need it.
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?
URDAN: Difficult topic. West Bloomfield and Commerce don’t rely on it like Warren does or Flint or Detroit or Southfield. We must bring a plan in to replace it or just downsize government. I would like to phase it out. Remember the Sheriff of Nottingham — you have two chairs, a table and a bed. That’s three gold coins to the king.
(The PPT) needs to go, but we can’t hurt communities relying on it, so it needs to be addressed today, not down the road.
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?
URDAN: I had a friend who was dying of cancer. She was terminal and the only thing that helped her endure the pain was marijuana. I do not partake — never have — but for the reason above, I support medical marijuana. We need to legalize it, (and) control it like all other drugs and (medical marijuana) farms need to be ran by licensed people and/or companies in controlled and secure facilities. Let’s stop talking about this and make it happen. (I’m not a fan of) the dispensary idea. Doctors also need to be held accountable for when they write the prescriptions.
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?
URDAN: (Basing road funding on) miles driven, per gallon of gas, where you live have all been discussed and I believe roads are essential to everything we do. The roads we drive on are horrible. Whenever there is a shortfall, (people say) we must raise taxes. Absolutely not. Do we not already pay more (in the) gas tax than most states? We need to look around and figure it out, but just adding another tax is not the answer. (The) solution (is to) shrink government by attrition and you will save millions (of dollars).
TOP ISSUES: What are the three most important issues for the district at this time, and how do you propose to address them?
URDAN: No. 1, schools. We must address the funding question and look at giving the best product to our students. Early childhood development programs need to start now.
No. 2, create a tax environment where Michigan becomes attractive to business and job growth is rewarded! By prioritizing expenditures and establishing a pro-business tax plan, we will make Michigan attractive to new business and allow existing business to hire more employees.
We are talking about “trickle up” not trickle down (economics). Let the worker get a few dollars and get people off public assistance and back into the workforce, where they will become productive and develop a positive self esteem. This will reduce crime, increase spending and jumpstart our economy back to prosperity.
WHY YOU? Why specifically should voters choose you over your opponent?
URDAN: In my 42 years, I have done many things, but starting a retail clothing business the day after I graduated high school, transforming it into a sales organization along with my 12-plus years of experience on community boards from senior care, apartments, a fitness club, a theater, many event fund-raisers and charitable organizations, I have a broad background and will apply logic, creativity and thought to every issue.
I will represent the people, all the people, equally and honestly.
We should not only be concerned about career politicians, but also those who represent themselves as political newcomers but have the same infrastructure of connections and owe the same interest groups favors.