Two visions for 102nd District seat
Potvin sees Michigan improving under current policies
OSCEOLA COUNTY — Remus resident John Ruggles, believes voters have had it with incumbent Rep. Phil Potvin’s, R-Cadillac, voting record and want someone new to represent them in Lansing.
“The people of the 102nd District have had it with policies that are destroying Michigan’s middle-class,” Ruggles said. “The crowded classrooms and crumbling infrastructure are a sure sign that our residents cannot afford another four-years from a
Governor and State Legislature that favors corporate interest over their constituents.”
Ruggles is the Democratic candidate hoping to unseat Potvin in November and said it doesn’t matter what his political affiliation is, but what is better for the people living in 102nd District. The district covers Wexford and Mecosta counties and part of Osceola County, including Reed City and the townships of Burdell, Cedar, Hartwick, LeRoy, Lincoln, Richmond and Rose Lake.
“I’m not going to Lansing to push either party’s agenda,” Ruggles said. “I going to help our educators, the people and get Michigan’s roads fixed. These are concerns I hear each day while taking to the people. Voters want someone who will work for them not against them.”
Education was the main reason Ruggles decided to run for the house seat.
“My daughter is an educator in the Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District and she convinced me something had to be done,” Ruggles said. “I’m not here to debate school funding or what was cut. I am telling people to talk to the school administrators, teachers and parents. We have a funding problem in our public schools created by the governor and this state’s legislature and I’m going to help fix it. We cannot take $1 billion dollars out of public education and give it over to private enterprise and expect a good result. It’s been disastrous to our public school system.”
In September, Michigan ranked 44th in the nation with an unemployment rate at 7.2 percent, according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those numbers are even higher in the 102nd District, Ruggles said.
“It’s more than double that for our residents,” Ruggles said. “The legislature needs to understand that economies are built from the middle, not the top. Corporate welfare benefits the wealthy few, and regressive sales taxes hurt the middle income citizens. Education and good jobs are inseparable concerns. We need to make public schools effective again, and higher education affordable.”
Michigan spends less money per capita on its roads and bridges than any other state in the nation. It spends $154 per person annually, according to the 2010 Census, which ranks the state last in the nation.
Motorists throughout Michigan don’t needs statistics to tell them the roads are in poor condition, Ruggles said.
“It’s terrible Lansing can’t pass legislation to fix Michigan’s roads and bridges,” Ruggles said. “We can address jobs and infrastructure at the same time. Create public jobs for necessity only. Turn millions of dollars over to our road commissions and watch the work be created.
“We need to take people on public assistance, unemployed and returning veterans and provide those jobs for them. This is not frivolous spending. Michigan’s roads and bridges need to be fixed. Business can’t grow in Michigan with poor roads.”
Potvin sees Michigan improving under current policies
“Michigan is improving,” Potvin said. ‘We continue to support good, strong serving programs like our public education system in Michigan.”
Potvin was elected to the state house in 2010. He serves as the chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture. He is also the vice chair of the Appropriations Subcommittees for School Aid, as well as a member of the Subcommittees for Education and Joint Capital Outlay.
While in Lansing, he used his position on the appropriations subcommittee to help schools in the 102nd District, by increasing funding to rural schools.
“We have worked to grow education funding in Lansing,” Potvin said. “I have helped shorten the gap with per pupil funding between rural schools and better funded districts. State funding has increased in Michigan by $1.3 billion and will continue to rise.”
Funding has increased to the public school system, but the money is not going into the classrooms. The increase is almost exclusively earmarked for school employee retirement costs, specifically legacy costs arising from the financial market downturn and state retirement system reforms, according to the Citizens Research Council of Michigan.
“We put that money toward the retirement cost,” Potvin said. “We needed to bring that fund back to the levels before the financial crisis because it would have become a bigger mess later if we didn’t address it now.”
As House representative from the 102nd District, Potvin sees the future of public schools moving forward under the current policies out of Lansing. He believes there is equal accountability between Michigan’s public and charter schools.
“The accountability needs to be the same,” Potvin said. “We need to look at what we can be doing better to attract students to our public schools system as well. We should continue to increase funding for public education. I voted ‘no’ to uncapping charter schools. It’s very important to put everbody under the same set of rules.”
In September, Michigan ranked 44th in the nation with an unemployment rate at 7.2 percent, according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics. Potvin said unemployment is a concern, but reinventing Michigan takes time and the state is well on its way to recovery as a result of the policies coming out of Lansing.
“With less government regulation and more private business, we have been able to reinvent Michigan by improving our business climate to retain and grow agriculture, manufacturing and retail jobs,” Potvin said. “Small businesses are filling our store fronts again in downtown Big Rapids and communities throughout the 102nd District, which was possible by removing the business tax and personal property tax. Business hires people, not government.”
If re-elected, Potvin will continue to make his case for road funding. In June 2014, the House passed a road funding bill that would of put 500 to 600 million into Michigan roads, Potvin said.
“The Senate failed to act,” Potvin said. “We are working with the Senate to get road funding passed and that will come up in the lame duck session. We are in agreement that the House bill is the best way to fund our roads in Michigan.
“Voters know I’m listening and I know the roads need to be fixed.”