Art Kale's employment experience includes the auto supply business. He also worked on the White House advance team during the last three years of the Bush administration.
He says that gives him experience in the business world, and his time with the White House shows he gets things done and pays attention to detail. Kale, who is from Albion, is now running for State House in the 62nd District which includes the city of Battle Creek. The district is now represented by Democrat Kate Segal, who can't run against because of term limit. Kale won a seat on the Calhoun County Commission in 2010, and was elected chairman by his fellow board members. Kale says his mantra is "common sense results" and "no excuses." Kale sat down with WMUK's Gordon Evans and Battle Creek Enquirer reporter Jennifer Bowman. A summary:
Calhoun County has eliminated its county road commission and combined resources with Jackson County. Kale says the state needs to eliminate inefficiencies in administration like Calhoun and Jackson Counties have done. He says it's inexcusable that the Legislature did not reach an agreement on funding road improvements before their summer recess. Kale says if there is going to be a gas tax increase, it should be approved by voters. He's willing to consider a "minimal" increase in vehicle registration fees.
An increase in the minimum wage was signed into law in May. But Kale says he would not have voted for it. The Republican candidate says he would prefer the state not have a minimum wage and that "the market dictate wages."
Kale says he would have preferred phasing in the tax on pension income that was passed in 2011. He says people worked thinking that pension income would not be taxed. Kale says people receiving pension income benefit from government services, so he's not against taxing the income. But he says it should have been introduced gradually.
Consolidation of Services
While Kale says the agreement on roads between Calhoun and Jackson Counties helped save money and make local government more efficient, he doesn't see a role for the state in trying to encourage such agreements. He says local governments should be seeking such partnerships because they make sense for those communities.
Governor Snyder recently signed legislation into law that exempts gun permit records from public disclosure. Kale says he would have voted for the bill. He says it's no one's business if he has a gun permit. Kale says the law won't interfere with public safety doing its job.
Kale says he's not in favor of medical marijuana. He says data shows that marijuana is a gateway drug. Kale says there is also "disjoint" between the federal and state law. Kale says he is open to looking at decriminalization of marijuana, making most possession of pot punishable by a fine, rather than jail time.
Kale says he would support adding protections for sexual orientation and gender identity to the state's Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act. He says discrimination should not be allowed. Kale acknowledges that protecting people from discrimination and respecting religious freedom "is a tough call." But Kale says overall he supports extending protections in the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act. The Republican candidate says he believes marriage is between one man and one woman. But Kale says he could support civil unions for same-sex couples.
Discussion of other issues can be heard in the web version of the interview.
Personal Property Tax
A proposal on the August ballot phases out the Personal Property Tax. Kale says he supports the proposal. He says it will make up the revenue from the tax to local governments. He says the Personal Property Tax hinders job creation.
Asked about how different agencies approach economic development, Kale says there is a tendency to be "provincial." But he says there should be opportunities for many agencies to work on economic development. Kale says better training is needed for jobs in manufacturing. He says while the state needs to diversify its economy, the auto industry is still an important part of Michigan's economic health. Kale says he favors more vocational training. He says not everyone is cut out to go to college. But Kale says they may have different skills that allow them to make a good living. He says the state should invest in programs which have proven to be successful.
The state approved an expansion of Medicaid, as allowed under the Affordable Care Act. Kale says he doesn't agree with that move. He says the law, also known as Obamacare, is killing jobs. Kale says there should be some way to provide health insurance to everyone. But he says the federal law changes the whole system for 10% of the population. Kale says he's concerned that the federal government won't follow through on its obligation to fund the expansion of Medicaid at the state level.