Michigan voters will choose their next governor on November 6. There are six candidates vying for the state’s top job.
WKAR’s Kevin Lavery talks with Libertarian Party candidate Bill Gelineau.
What’s the most pressing issue facing Michigan today?
I really think it comes down to lack of cooperation. When I look at the two larger, older parties and the way they’ve sort of demonized each other, it really transcends down to a whole range of issues. If we can just get people to sit down at the table and talk to one another, we can probably hammer out some of these issues.
One specific problem we have in Michigan is water quality. PFAS (per and polyfluoroalkyl substances), lead and copper in the water in some areas are affecting the safety of our drinking water. What do you plan to do as governor to make sure that our drinking water is safe?
My approach to how we would enforce and require corporations that are handling toxic substances and how we would address that...the most important of which is using an existing tax that’s out there called the industrial facilities tax. We would apply that broadly to any company that would be handling these toxic substances. That really only generates the money to deal with the existing sites that we have; to deal with companies that are already out of business. As far as companies that are in operation, I want to make sure they carry sufficient insurance so that if there’s a problem, they can’t walk away from it.
I’d like to ask you about education now. The state has a goal of becoming a top 10 education state...but right now, we rank in the bottom 10 in terms of our reading and math scores. More than half of our third graders don’t read proficiently at their grade level. What might you do as governor to reverse that trend?
Well, I’m opposed to Common Core and the testing regimen which I think really gives an incorrect assessment of what the situation is. Using averages is no way to treat an individual child. What I think we need to look at is the fact that in some school districts, we’re doing very, very well and in others we’re struggling; and I think it comes down to figuring out how to allocate resources. One of my big criticisms has been very large school districts in which children and parents are very often lost. Michigan has right now upwards of 460 or 470 school districts, including K-8’s and some other odd things. Governor Snyder has actually advocated consolidation as a solution. Most people in the state don’t know, but in 1920 we had 7,000 school districts. Parents were much more in charge, they were much smaller, there was a lot more sensitivity to individual issues. I think we need to move in a direction where rather than having these enormous school districts like Detroit, Grand Rapids and others, that we give parents much more opportunity for them to impact their individual children’s lives. That’s really where the problem exists, in my mind.
What’s your vision for health care in Michigan?
I do support Governor Snyder’s decision to expand Medicaid coverage, but we also know that the actual cost of Medicaid is expanding exponentially, and it’s going to become untenable. We proferred one pilot program to try to address long term dependency on the welfare system. We offered some incentives for young girls to contract, with the approval of their parent or guardian, to voluntarily enter a program to delay having children. It created quite a firestorm.
I stand by that program; I still think it would be a wonderful opportunity for people to lift themselves out of poverty. Some other people might advocate doing something different. We know social science teaches us that the age that a woman has her first child is the strongest indicator as to whether or not she’s going to be into welfare for a longer period of time. So, we thought (of) a voluntary program that would give her an opportunity to delay the having of that first child, to perhaps become more mature, to have the opportunity to go to college and to really set your course in life.