MI Governor

From Bwtm

DeVos admits he can't cut taxes by very much

Gubernatorial candidate says he'll offer alternatives.


October 21, 2006 Republican gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos conceded Friday that he can't offer a substantial tax cut to boost Michigan's economy, given the state's depleted tax revenues.

DeVos has said he would cut the state's $1.9 billion business tax nearly in half plus eliminate the $1.7 billion personal property tax on business equipment and machinery. But he has offered few details on how state and local government would withstand those dramatic revenue losses.

The former Amway president said an alternative tax would substitute for the equipment tax, but his replacement for the Single Business Tax would provide some overall relief.

"When you put it all together in one, big sort of pile and we're able to get it all done, will it probably end up in some sort of net tax reduction? I suspect so," DeVos said in an interview with The Macomb Daily. "Will that reduction be massive? I don't suspect so. I don't think it needs to be. And, frankly, we're not in a position where we can make that happen."

When DeVos first proposed eliminating the equipment tax last week, local officials expressed dismay because the levy provides about $760 million for schools and $916 million for cities and townships.

The candidate now says that he will devise an alternative tax to fill that void, with schools and municipalities suffering no loss in funds, though he offers no details. His goal is to add Michigan to the list of states with no equipment tax, which is viewed as a significant deterrent to industrial investments in manufacturing plants.

The GOP challenger to Gov. Granholm, DeVos plans to replace the SBT with a tax based largely on profits, which would generate a majority of the existing revenues. Some additional revenues could be raised through reforms of teacher insurance plans and reductions in welfare payments, according to the Republican's proposal. Spending cuts and cost efficiencies would allow for a business tax cut.

The west Michigan businessman said the biggest change he would bring to the governor's office is a new tone, a new dynamic, that would make jobs and economic development a daily top priority.

Under Granholm's approach, the state targets specific companies for assistance, he said. The governor's $2 billion 21st Century Jobs Fund will provide hundreds of grants and loans to companies and research labs over the next 10 years.

"In order to get 1,000 jobs in Michigan, the governor's view is, "Let's get one company to come here for 1,000 jobs.' My ... philosophy is, we're going to build an environment where 1,000 companies add a job," he said.

DeVos said he would provide a pro-business environment that would help small and medium-sized businesses across the state.

"What they want is a fair shake," he said. "What they want is a decent tax structure. What they want are regulations that work. And what they want is the opportunity to build their business in peace."


Mockumentary pokes fun at direct marketing firms such as Amway

LANSING, Mich. -- The writer-director of an independent movie razzing direct sales companies such as Amway Corp. didn't realize when he made the mockumentary that former Amway President Dick DeVos was running for governor.

But the Utah moviemaker saw a chance to influence the political debate and make some money, and has brought the movie to Michigan.

Loki Mulholland and some members of the cast planned to hold a free showing of the movie "Believe" on Thursday evening at the NCG Theater in Lansing. The movie is billed as a "lighthearted yet excoriating" mockumentary of the "surreally enthusiastic world of multilevel marketing." It's the first film for the 34-year-old filmmaker, who lives in Orem, Utah, near Salt Lake City. Mulholland plans to show it to general audiences beginning Oct. 13 in Lansing, Grand Rapids and Flint and says it will open in Detroit and Ann Arbor on Oct. 20. Other Michigan cities will be added if there's enough interest.

"Believe" draws on Mulholland's four or five years as an unsuccessful Amway distributor in the 1990s. It was shot for less than $500,000 in 2004, the year before DeVos announced he was running for the GOP nomination to take on Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Mulholland isn't subtle in his dislike for Ada-based Amway and its parent company Alticor Inc., along with other direct marketing companies such as Herbalife International, cosmetics seller Mary Kay Inc. and Shaklee Corp.

"It's the industry as a whole" that's being mocked, he said. "Those people ... who promote this way of making money are basically misrepresenting how you can make money in this business."

Although the film doesn't just pick on Amway, it does contain a scene that features actors exhorting the crowd in a send-up of Amway sales conventions.

Amway, Mulholland said, is "the granddaddy of them all. Everyone has kind of patterned themselves after them."

As for DeVos, who was company president from 1993 to 2002, "you really can't separate him from Amway, no matter how hard they're going to try," Mulholland said. "I think the real question is, do they have the right to rip millions of people off with Amway ... (and use) that money to turn around and run for governor."


DeVos favors option to teach intelligent design in science classes

Republican gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos says Michigan's science curriculum should include a discussion about intelligent design.

He says including intelligent design along with evolution would help students discern the facts among different theories.

"I would like to see the ideas of intelligent design -- that many scientists are now suggesting is a very viable alternative theory -- that that theory and others that would be considered credible would expose our students to more ideas, not less," DeVos told The Associated Press this week during an interview on education.

Intelligent design's proponents hold that living organisms are so complex they must have been created by a higher force rather than evolving from more primitive forms. Some want science teachers to teach that Darwin's theory of evolution is not a fact and has gaps.

However, a federal judge in December barred the school system in Dover, Pa., from teaching intelligent design alongside evolution in high school biology classes. The judge said that intelligent design is religion masquerading as science, and that teaching it alongside evolution violates the separation of church and state.

Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm has said that Michigan schools need to teach the established theory of evolution in science classes and not include intelligent design, but can explore intelligent design in a current events or a comparative religions class.

The State Board of Education last week postponed adopting new science curriculum guidelines until state lawmakers get more time to weigh in on what the state's public schools science curriculum should be and how it should approach the teaching of evolution.