For Immediate Release
Incumbent Rogers’ ideas met with silence, contradicts himself on own voting record
(Brighton, Mich.) – At Wednesday’s Candidate Panel Discussion, sponsored by the Home Builders Association of Livingston County , the only applause was for candidate James Lewis, running against incumbent Bill Rogers and challenger Shanda Willis for a seat in the state House. Representing the 42nd district, Lewis advocates eliminating personal state income tax and cutting property taxes as a first step in recharging the home building and other local industries.
The Lewis plan calls for cutting the state budget by 11% across the board to afford the elimination of personal income taxes. He asserts this will make the state more attractive to businesses and the people they employ, and will help jumpstart new business growth.
Lewis received applause from the audience, which consisted mainly of builders and related tradespeople and affiliated industries. Rogers, whose building company is a member of the HBALC, found his ideas were met with decidedly less enthusiasm.
When asked specifically what could be done in the legislature to help spur home starts, Lewis was clear: Level the housing tax and eliminate the disadvantages to owning a second home or investment property by eliminating the “non-homestead” property tax that adds an average of 40% more to the property owner’s tax bill. Lewis claims that by eliminating this tax, buyers will be more likely to invest in fixer-upper properties, which in turn spurs local growth and related businesses.
Rogers, who up until this point in the campaign has been silent on the non-homestead tax issue, added, “I firmly believe in getting rid of the homestead exemption.” It was unclear whether Rogers meant that literally, as doing away with the exemption would effectively raise taxes on home owners. Lewis is aiming to repeal the non-homestead tax, not the exemption.
Rogers mentioned that work needed to be done in the financial industries regarding appraisals, and said that as a builder, he has had to lay off people who worked for him.
“I used to feed 20 families that I can no longer feed,” said Rogers, saying that if you wipe out employers, we won’t have any employees.
Lewis blames the special interests and lobbyists for a lot of the problems at the state level, and suggests that across the board cuts are the solution.
“Nobody wants to give up their favorite pet projects or axe any particular program,” Lewis said, in explaining the current system’s shell game of moving taxes from one group to another, depending on who is lobbying hardest. “We need mandatory cut across the board. Nobody gets to pick a project, nobody gets a say so. We cut across the board.
“It’s time that the individual gets a chance to be represented in the process,” Lewis continued. “The individual is bearing the brunt of this system. Judging by the applause after this statement, many in the room agreed.
Lewis has been campaigning on a platform of reducing government intrusion in the form of business regulations, a message which has been well-received by many in the local business community. And, at least last night, Rogers seemed to agree, stating that “there is way too much regulation in this [the home building] industry,” and claiming to be working on diminishing industry regulations.
Rogers’ voting record, however, says otherwise, with the incumbent voting to raise taxes on Michigan voters and add additional industry regulations, while voting against several measures designed to institute campaign finance reform.