Phil Stinchcomb says he first ran for public office because it was time to "get off the chair and into the ring."
The Republican says he would spend Friday night with his family eating pizza, watching the news and complaining. He says it was time to do more than complain. Stinchcomb first unsuccessfully ran for Portage City Council, and was elected to the Kalamazoo County Commission in 2010. He's now seeking the state House seat held by fellow Republican Margaret O'Brien who is running for state Senate. O'Brien helped Stinchcomb get into politics. Another Kalamazoo County Commissioner Brandt Iden is also running for the Republican nomination in the 61st district.
Stinchcomb sat down with WMUK's Gordon Evans and Kalamazoo Gazette reporter Alex Mitchell. A summary of the issues:
Improving Michigan roads is a hot topic in the state Legislature. Stinchcomb who is a sales representative in the steel industry says infrastructure is important to his business. But he's not convinced that a gas tax increase is needed. Stinchcomb says it's also important to build quality roads. He says Michigan allows larger weights than neighboring states, and needs roads to handle those loads. Asked where he would find more money for roads without raising revenue, Stinchcomb says he would look to health and human services which makes up a large share of the state budget. The Republican candidate says he is willing to consider toll roads as way to raise money for road improvements.
Stinchcomb says he "would not have a problem" with decriminalizing marijuana, and making the penalties more along the lines of a ticketed civil infraction, rather than a jail sentence. Stinchcomb says he sees some benefits to medical marijuana, but would not favor a complete legalization of pot.
Asked about the Center for Michigan's survey showing little support for raising or cutting taxes, Stinchcomb says he favors changing the state's tax structure. He wants to rely more on sales or "consumption" taxes. Stinchcomb says it would provide more revenue for government without relying on taxation of production or property.
The federal courts are currently deciding whether or not Michigan's gay marriage ban will stay in place. Stinchcomb says he supports the ban on same-sex marriage that voters approved in 2004. But he says government should get out of marriage entirely. Asked about the legal ramifications, Stinchcomb says government "shouldn't pick winners and losers." But he says the best scenario for marriage is "one man, one woman, one lifetime."
Governor Rick Snyder says he would like state lawmakers to consider amending the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act to add sexual orientation. Stinchcomb says if such a law is on the books, those protections should be added. But he says he would prefer not to have a law on the books at all. "My preference would be to let people respect one another."
Stinchcomb says he likes his primary opponent, fellow Kalamazoo County Commissioner Brandt Iden. He says they have a good working relationship. Stinchcomb says he's sure whoever doesn't win the August primary will support the Republican nominee in the general election.
Other issues were discussed and can be heard in the web version of the interview:
Currently lawmakers are limited to serving six years in the state House and eight years in the state Senate. Stinchcomb says he would favor going to a part-time Legislature and eliminating term limits.
Governor Rick Snyder recently signed a minimum wage increase into law. It brings Michigan's minimum wage to $9.25 an hour by 2018. Stinchcomb says he probably would have voted against the bill. He says minimum wage jobs aren't meant for people to make a living. Stinchcomb says if there is going to be a minimum wage if should be indexed to inflation, but he says he would prefer not to have a minimum wage.
Stinchcomb says he will work with anyone on producing good policy, he says that's what he has done as a county commissioner.
Personal Property Tax
The only proposal on the August ballot is a plan to phase out the Personal Property Tax and replace the revenue that goes to local governments. Stichcomb says getting rid the tax on business equipment is a step in the right direction. But he does not favor designating replacement revenue. The August ballot initiative replaces the revenues lost by local governments with a portion of the state's 6% sales tax. Stinchcomb says he would favor getting rid of property tax across the board and replacing it with a higher sales tax. He says that would create more investment and lead to greater tax revenue.
Stinchcomb says he prefers local control of education. He says state and federal requirements are too broad. Stinchcomb says not every child should go to college. He says people are needed in the skilled trades, and that should be a greater emphasis. Stinchcomb says he would restructure how higher education is funded. He would grant the money to students to encourage more competition among universities.
The State Legislation approved a so-called "grand bargain" to help the city of Detroit get out of bankruptcy. But Stinchcomb says he would not have supported the $195-million state share of the deal. He says the city of Detroit couldn't control costs, and needs to finds its own solution.
Eliminating regulations is a major part of Stinchcomb's campaign. He says licensing and other regulations are too burdensome. Stinchcomb says he would work to eliminate rules and regulations that "don't protect the people."