DETROIT, Mich. -- Going face to face for the only time in this election season, Governor Rick Snyder defended his policies against his democratic challenger, former Congressman Mark Schauer.
Schauer said that one of the most concerning issues his supporters ask him about is the pension tax, a policy Schauer said that is creating an unnecessary burden on Michigan's elderly.
"It is wrong. It is bad tax policy. It is breaking a promise that is causing seniors to leave our state and preventing others from coming to our state. A retired coupled born in 1952 or after is paying $3,100 more a year because of his policies," said Schauer.
Governor Snyder hit back, saying it's a fair policy.
'If you happened to be person who worked at a place that had a 401K, and you started taking part of those distributions before you left work, part of it was taxable, part of it wasn't, and for the people that had a retirement plan that still had to work, they were paying Michigan income tax. To be blunt, I don`t think that`s fair," said Snyder.
Schauer said that while the governor is raising taxes on the middle and lower class, he's lowering taxes on businesses, adding that 95,000 companies in Michigan don't pay taxes. Governor Snyder said that in order to create jobs in the state, tax policy must give incentives to companies looking to expand.
"Do you remember all of those companies that were closing up? Part of that was, they had a big tax burden. When you had to pay your taxed, you know how tight it was. We were putting in an extra tax on our businesses," said Gov. Snyder.
After a brutal Winter in Michigan, politicians on both sides of the isle have spoken out about the need for road repair. Schauer said that the governor wasn't around to take initiative.
"You spend $2.5 billion dollars collectively here on repairs for cars because of the horrible roads. Now, I`ll tell you what I won`t do. At crunch time in the legislative process, where democrats and republicans were really trying to find a solution over summer, I won`t be in Manhattan with a billionaire hosting a fundraiser for me," said Schauer.
Gov. Snyder responded by saying he agreed with increasing the amount of money given for road repair, but said that others were afraid to take a stance.
"Well, the challenge is much of the legislature was having a tough time addressing this issue. Pot hole season brought it home, and what we got what pretty far in the process. We got further than had been done in a lot of years, but it was an election year. You found many legislatures that weren't going to vote for a revenue increase going into an election season," said Gov. Snyder.
On the issue of education, Schauer said the governor is hurting local school district's ability to expand their curriculum by making significant cuts to the state's education budget.
"I was raised in Livingston County where my dad was a teacher and my mom was a nurse. I saw the difference they made. They taught me that the key to a good job is a good education. It is true that Rick cut a billion dollars from public schools, raised taxes on seniors, and gave 80-90 percent pay raises to his top executives in state. I think that's wrong," said Schauer.
Gov. Snyder responded saying that he's raised the state's 'pre-school' budget, to total more than any other state in the country.
"Lets make this really simple, because you hear about a lot of different things, in terms of different pieces of that, and different pieces of this. Let me make this as simple as possible. A year before I became Governor, the state budget for K-12 was $10.6 billion dollars. That's a number that doesn't change. The budget that I just signed into law, was $11.7 billion dollars," said Gov. Snyder.
The election will be held on November 4, 2014.