Franz addresses no-fault insurance, income tax reform as he campaigns for State Senate seat.

October 9, 2017

Rep. Franz presiding over the Michigan House of Representatives in 2016.

Franz addresses no-fault insurance, income tax reform as he campaigns for State Senate seat.

#MichiganSenate #Election2018.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

Ray Franz, former representative for Michigan’s 101st State House of Representatives district, has been increasing his presence on the campaign trail since filing his candidacy for Michigan’s 35th Senate district last February. Franz sat down with MCP last week to discuss the 2018 election and topics that the Michigan Senate will likely be tackling in the near future.

The 35th Senate District includes Mason, Lake, Osceola, Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Benzie, Leelanau, Kalkaska, and Crawford counties, which have a population of 261,943 as of the 2010 census. The seat is currently occupied by Darwin Booher (R-Evart), who is in his final term, due to term limits. Michigan senators are elected for four year terms and allowed to serve three terms.

Franz said he has been concentrating his early campaigning on reacquainting and introducing himself to governmental leaders by attending municipal meetings since February. He said there are about 170 townships in the 12 county district and about three dozen cities and villages; he has visited a majority of those municipalities already by attending governmental meetings.

“It’s been a great reception so far,” Franz said. “I typically just spend a few minutes during public comment and introduce myself. Everybody has been very nice.”

Franz, a Republican from Onekama, served three terms as the representative of the 101st House district, which includes Mason, Manistee, Benzie, and Leelanau counties, from 2010 to 2016; Michigan representatives are term limited at three two-year terms. During his time, Franz served on the house committees on education (vice chair), local government, Michigan competitiveness, military and veterans affairs (vice chair), agriculture, communications and technology, insurance, and regulatory reform (chair). During his last term, he was the associate speaker pro tempore, meaning he was the third person in line of the House leadership, behind the speaker and the speaker pro tempore. He often presided over the House.

Franz is a former business owner who operated grocery stores in Onekama and Bear Lake. He is a veteran of the US Army and served for many years as a volunteer firefighter.

Franz said the topics he could see the Senate taking on the very near future include no-fault vehicle insurance, reducing or eliminating income tax, and reducing regulations.

The Republican controlled House of Representatives is currently addressing a bill that would reform no-fault vehicle insurance, however the Republican controlled Senate’s leadership has indicated that it will vote against the bill.

“We still have to get some reform done in no-fault,” Franz said.

He said income tax will be a major topic.

“The key thing in the state of Michigan is to maintain the reforms that we established when I served in the House,” Franz said. “I think we need to address the income tax rollback. There is no reason why we can’t rollback to 3.9 percent at the very least. There have also been reasonable arguments to eliminate the income tax, which is even better for our economy.”

The current income tax is 4.25 percent. Franz said during his second term in the House, the tax was reduced from 4.35% to 4.25%.

“The tax was increased to 4.35 during the Granholm administration with the promise that it would be rolled back in five years. That never happened during her term. This should be high on the priority list.”

Franz said he would like to see the state income tax eliminated and is confident that the legislature could supplement the loss in revenue by adapting modest sales and use tax increases. He said economists have also predicted that the elimination in income tax would stimulate the economy by seeing an increase in population and an increase in consumer spending.

“We would only need to increase the sales tax by pennies,” Franz said. “If you eliminate the income tax, you are going to see an increase in the state GDP (gross domestic product) by $50 billion to $100 billion. There will be more people and more economic activity. You’ll see upgrades in home purchases and in vehicle purchases. Consumers could make their own choices better than the state on how to spend their money and we would see a windfall in every area. We would have more money for roads and we would have more money for the schools. At first, it would appear that the schools would lose money, but that is only because of the initial loss of income tax revenue. The increase through other taxes would offset it enormously.

“The key, however, is not to offset the income tax elimination dollar for dollar with the sales tax. You just need to slightly increase the sales tax, maybe a penny, and we will grow.”

Franz said if the state sees an increase in tax revenues the legislature needs to be cautious that it doesn’t overspend.

“I think that’s the biggest mistake legislators make. Once you turn an economy around they seem to fall prey to the mentality of using the surpluses to grow government. Then, we find ourselves in the hole again.”

This story and photograph are copyrighted © 2017, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

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