WATERTOWN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer on Tuesday proposed tripling the percentage of Michigan's electricity that must come from renewable sources and rebuilding crumbling roads — parts of an economic plan he said would create tens of thousands of jobs.
Schauer's 24-page "blueprint" includes new proposals such as increasing the portion of power from sources such as wind and the sun to 30 percent by 2035. Under state law, Michigan's suppliers must produce at least 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2015.
Republican Gov. Rick Snyder favors increasing the requirement but has not decided by how much.
Schauer's plan, unveiled at a Lansing-area union training facility, also contains initiatives he's previously proposed — restoring income tax breaks for retirees and others, and reversing cuts to education that Snyder enacted during his first year in office.
"Our history has shown that the best way to create jobs and grow the economy is from the bottom up and middle out, not from the top down," Schauer said. "After four years on the job, Rick Snyder has put that Michigan dream at risk."
Though Schauer said a top economic priority would be spending more to fix roads, he criticized the idea of raising the state gasoline tax. Snyder has supported higher fuel taxes for road repairs only to run into opposition from lawmakers, despite contending it would save drivers on vehicle repairs and prevent the need for even more spending later when roads deteriorate further.
Schauer, a former one-term congressman, said he instead would look for savings in the state budget, lobby Congress to send more federal gas tax revenue back to Michigan and ask trucking companies to pay their "fair share" in fees. It is unlikely those moves alone would generate enough money, however, nor be seen as a permanent road-funding fix.
The Snyder campaign criticized Schauer for not giving many specifics on his proposals or how he would pay for them.
"When it comes to jobs and the economy, the governor's record is clear with the creation of more than 250,000 new private-sector jobs and the lowest unemployment in six years. When Mark Schauer was last in Lansing, Michigan lost more than 300,000 jobs and unemployment was above 11 percent. Michiganders cannot afford Schauer's rhetoric," said Snyder campaign spokeswoman Emily Benavides.
Schauer also served in the state legislature before being elected to Congress in 2008.
Schauer again criticized Snyder and GOP legislators for approving a $1.8 billion tax cut for businesses and offsetting most of the lost revenue by taxing retirement income and eliminating or reducing tax credits for low-income earners, children and middle-class homeowners. Schauer, though, said he is not proposing an increase in the corporate income tax that was enacted when Snyder scrapped the old Michigan Business Tax.
He instead would target "loopholes" in the tax code. He mentioned unspecified breaks for the oil and gas and insurance industries.
Schauer also said he would create a board to help college students refinance their loans at lower interest rates, put the state on a path to universal preschool, start an "insourcing" initiative to lure companies to bring jobs from overseas, expand incentives so more films are shot in Michigan, reverse cuts to local revenue sharing and overhaul the regulatory system for energy utilities.
He also wants to tighten rules so state contracts are less likely to be awarded to out-of-state companies.
Schauer did not dispute that 250,000 private-sector jobs have been created under Snyder's watch but attributed it mostly to the auto industry's comeback. He said his own promise to create tens of thousands of jobs is a "conservative estimate" and it could be "many tens of thousands of jobs."
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