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Michigan Representative District 27

Choose one candidate. Representatives in the Michigan State House serve two-year terms and receive an annual salary of $71,685.

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  • Kyle Forrest
    (Rep)

  • Candidate picture

    Robert Wittenberg
    (Dem)

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Biographical Information

How should the state assist other municipalities and school districts whose solvency is threatened by its financial obligations to current and future retirees?

Is the way the state funds our cities adequate to ensure safety and service delivery? If not, what changes would you support to our municipal finance model?

When cities are struggling, what is the appropriate way for the state to intervene? Should state intervention – through the emergency manager law or some other avenue – come with dollars attached? Why or why not?

How would you rate the state’s response to the Flint water crisis?

Explain your answer and what you would do, if anything, to improve the state’s response.

How would you rate the federal government’s response to the Flint water crisis?

Explain your answer and what you would do, if anything, to improve the federal government’s response.

Have you ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor? If so, explain.

Have you ever filed for personal bankruptcy? If so, explain.

Do you believe Michigan’s tax system is generally fair? If not, what changes do you support?

Would you support the establishment of a Detroit Educational Commission that would have authority to site, open and close traditional public and charter schools?

What changes, if any, would you support in the way Michigan authorizes and regulates charter schools?

Do you favor amending the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity?

Do you support state-level laws modeled on the federal Restoration of Religious Freedom Act?

Have you signed any public pledge to support or oppose any organization’s public policy objectives, such as outlawing abortion or barring any increase in taxes?

Do you support legislation to minimize or eliminate the influence of political parties on drawing lines for legislative districts?

Do you support decriminalization of recreational marijuana?

Do you support and will you appear at campaign events with your party’s presidential nominee?

Do you support the renewal and/or expansion of renewable energy mandates for Michigan energy producers?

Do we incarcerate too many people in Michigan? What would you change in the criminal justice system?

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City of residence Oak Park
Age 35
Family Wife, Kimberly.
Education Berkley High School Class of 1999 Indiana University Class of 2003 - Bachelor of Science in Business Management
Vehicles owned Chevrolet Volt
Professional Experience 10 Years as a Licensed Life and Health Insurance Agent
Political Experience State Representative from 1/2015 – Current
Race/ethnicity Caucasian
Campaign Website http://wittenbergforrep.org/
Incumbent? true
For school districts - Charter schools should have to pay into MPSERS, and the state should be contributing more to the retirees' unfunded liability (which is also deferred payment).

For municipalities - We have a broken model for funding our local communities that needs to be fixed. In the interim, more money should be sent to local communities through revenue sharing, instead of the state taking money away and balancing its books on the back of municipalities.
Funny you should ask, I just mentioned this problem above. No! We (the state) can't continually balance our budget on the backs of local communities. When residents have urgent issues/problems, they don't call DC or Lansing, they call their local unit of government. Local governments are hamstrung by the Headlee Amendment and Proposal A. We need to provide municipalities with more options to levy taxes on income, goods and services and allow municipalities to roll up millages when property tax revenue grows by less than the rate of inflation.
First, Flint is the best example as to why we need to change the EM law. There is no oversight or accountability for these de facto dictators and we need to return control to locally elected governments. Second, we wouldn't be faced with these issues if our state government wasn't so shortsighted and actually invested properly in our local communities. Third, if the state is going to intervene, then of course dollars should be attached. We can't cut our way to success, we need to invest in long-term solutions.
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The state appointed Emergency Manager caused this problem, it was exacerbated by the state's inaction for years, so the state must fix it! The amount we appropriated is just a start, we need to do so much more. It is not a sustainable plan to drink bottled water and filtered water indefinitely. A person living in the USA in 2016 should be able to trust the water that comes out of their faucet. We need to partner with the city to fix/replace the lead service lines, we need to cover the cost of all the poisoned water bills, and we need to fund programs to ensure the health and well-being of all children in Flint.
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The Federal government could also provide more funding for the things I mentioned above, and most importantly, for the repairs and updates to Flint's water infrastructure.
No
No
Not at all! The first thing that needs to change is our flat income tax. I have been working closely with my colleague, Jim Townsend, on a graduated income tax proposal. I hosted a town hall on Tax and Income Inequality earlier this year and will continue to push to get our GIT proposal on the ballot in 2018. When all state and local taxes paid by Michigan residents are considered, (sales, property, excise), higher income residents pay a lower share of their income in state and local taxes than lower and middle-income residents. That, is an unfair system! Other things I am pushing for include: Expanding the EITC, restoring the $600/child credit and the Homestead Property Tax Credit, etc.
In theory, yes. I would love for the DEC to be able to close failing charter schools and expand the reach of our public schools. I will never support a for-profit charter school over a community based public school.
The most important thing we need to do is hold charter schools to the same standards as public schools. Charters have to have the same accountability and transparency measures in place. Additionally, I would place the power to authorize charters with the MDE/State Superintendent and have penalties for authorizers who do not address their substandard charters. These organizations have to prove that they care more about the students than the bottom-line, which as of now is not the case!
Yes! LGBT individuals deserve the same protections as every other Michigander, and I will continue fighting to expand the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity and will continue to work tirelessly until there is equality for all. Our state is better and stronger when we stand up for the rights of all our neighbors.
Government approved discrimination? NO! I spoke on the house floor against the discriminatory adoption bills that passed last year. They codify into law state subsidized discrimination. We see what is happening in other states when they try to pass these terrible laws.
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Absolutely! I hosted a town hall last year with Mark Brewer and Mark Schauer on this very topic. This is the essence of what is wrong with our political system. Politicians should not be picking their voters, voters should be picking their politicians! We need to end gerrymandering and have a non-partisan commission drawing the lines.
Yes. Michigan spends more money annually on our prison system than on higher education. I believe that incarcerating nonviolent criminals is a poor use of these funds. We could reapportion a small fraction of this more than $2 billion for the creation of drug courts, rehabilitation programs and better mental health care. These policies would be a more humane approach to the problem of addiction, and also decrease recidivism rates, all while saving the state money.
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Yes, we must reduce the use of fossil fuels in order to have any hope of fighting the destructive effects of global climate change, and increasing our renewable energy standards will help. One of the best ways to ensure meaningful development in renewable energy is to keep and increase energy mandates.
Yes! We should lock people up if we are scared of them, not because we are mad at them. The question above about recreational marijuana comes to mind. We are working to reform Michigan’s sentencing practices and guidelines. We also need to reprioritize prisoner reentry programs to help prepare inmates to become productive members of society upon release. Additionally, we should put resources into community-based and community-driven strategies that help individuals avoid incarceration. We have to be smart on crime, rather than tough on crime.

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