Mark Schauer tells me over beers, “I’m going to beat Rick Snyder whether or not the minimum wage ballot proposal is before voters or not”

Yesterday evening, after work, one thing led to another and I found myself locked in the basement of Arbor Brewing along with with Mark Schauer, the Democratic candidate for Governor of Michigan. Fortunately, I had a camera with me, and captured a good deal of our exchange on the subjects of K-12 education and the minimum wage, which you can watch below.

Speaking of the minimum wage, this conversation between myself and Schauer transpired just a few hours after Republicans in the Michigan Senate passed a minimum wage hike to $9.20 an hour by 2017. It’s probably also worth noting that this Republican repurposing of legislation originally proposed by Democrats like Mark Schauer was pushed through less than two days after those individuals behind the Raise Michigan initiative announced they’d collected the 250,000 signatures needed to get the $10.10 minimum wage on the November ballot. And, no, I don’t think that’s a coincidence. Senate Republicans, I think it’s pretty clear, rushed through this minimum wage legislation yesterday, not because they developed a sudden concern for our most vulnerable workers, but because they wanted to keep the minimum wage off the ballot, as they knew it would not only pass, but drive the progressive base to the polls, where they’d vote Republicans like Rick Snyder out of office.

Here, with all of that said, is video of my very quick interview with Mark Schauer, followed by the transcript.

MAYNARD: Privatization in education is a huge concern for a number of us in the state. Your dad was a science teacher, and I know it’s something close to your heart. Michigan, I believe, is the number one state in the country relative to for-profit charters. How (as Governor) would you stop that?

SCHAUER: There are a number of ways. Number one, we have to remove the profit motive from education in Michigan, and put the “public” back in education. 80% of charter schools in Michigan are run by for-profit companies. And that’s not even counting these virtual schools, or cyber schools, that were enacted into law by Governor Snyder. They see kids with dollar signs on their foreheads. I’ll give you an interesting case in point. Muskegon Heights schools were in financial distress. So Governor Snyder sent in an emergency manager. And the emergency manager chose a for-profit charter school company to run the entire district. It was a company called Mosaic. Well, recently, Mosaic ended their contract. Three years early. And the emergency manager said, Mosaic was doing a good job academically… I can’t really speak to that part… but, he said, this did not fit their financial model. They could not make a profit, he said. So they quit. The public shool district did not have an option of quitting. Elected school boards don’t have that option.

They key is committing to our public school system, to all of our neighborhood schools. We need to make sure they have the resources to be successful. I’m not against charter schools per se. There are a lot of excellent examples of charter schools. But most of them are redundant. They’re not especially innovative. They’re not especially effective. Some of the lowest performing schools are charter schools run by for-profits. So we need to take the profit motive out.

When I’m Governor, if it’s not done before, we’ll conduct a study and see what it actually costs to educate our kids. Most charter schools are K-6, or K-8. Most are not K-12. It’s cheaper to provide an elementary school education. (And these charters) often don’t provide transportation. So we’ll determine what it costs for them to actually provide that education, and, instead of getting that seven-thousand dollars and change per student that our public schools get, they’ll get what it actually costs (to provide what they provide). I think that will weed out a lot of these for-profit companies. And that will allow us to redirect those resources back to our public schools.

MAYNARD: Do people vote on education? I mean, people vote on the economy, but do they vote on education. I know it’s your central message, but do people care?

SCHAUER: Education is my number one priority. I learned this firsthand… I’m a product of public education… the key to a good job is a good education. I mean (not just) from a moral standpoint, but from a purely economic standpoint (it makes sense to invest in education). I used to run Headstart, and we knew the dollar return on investment on quality, developmental preschool, and that’s the same for quality education through high school completion. We all pay as a society when young people aren’t getting a good education.

What I hear on the campaign trail all over the state… The two items that make people the angriest about Rick Snyder as Governor… One is the $1 billion cut to public education. No matter how had he tries to spin it, people realize that school districts now have about $500 less per pupil in the classroom. And kids are in more crowded classrooms (as a result). My running mate, Lisa Brown, from Oakland County, talks about her own experience. She sees her younger children getting an inferior education with fewer resources in more crowded classrooms. Programs just don’t exist anymore that were there when her older children were in school. So, yes, it is a potent issue. People understand that for Michigan to win in this global competition for jobs, we need to have the best educated workforce.

The second issue that people are most passionate about is Rick SNyder’s retirement tax. Retirees are paying, one thousand, two thousand, three thousand more dollars a year in taxes that would otherwise be going into the economy to help create jobs in Michigan.

MAYNARD: Your campaign has been very smart in certain ways. By not having a primary opponent, you’re saving a lot of money, and you’re not being distracted by these petty fights within the Democratic party. Brilliant. Another thing that could help you is the minimum wage. If we can get the minimum wage on the ballot in November, it would drive Democrats to the polls, which is absolutely critical, given that this is a non-Presidential election year. What are our chances of getting it on the ballot? I know that there were some developments today.

SCHAUER: Well, a couple of things. The fact that I didn’t have a primary challenger speaks to a couple of things. The Democratic party is very unified and disciplined going into the 2014 election. We had the lowest base Democratic turnout in 2010 than in any election since 1948, when Harry Truman was President. And you see what happened. We got Rick Snyder as Governor, and Republicans controlling every aspect of state government. And we’ve seen what’s happened as a result. So there’s real unity and a focus on winning this election. I stepped forward to run because I could not abide by the attacks on public education, the tax increases on retirees, families and low-wage earners, cuts in environmental protections, attacks on working people, women, and the gay and lesbian community. So I stepped forward to run almost a year ago. And I was able to establish myself as a consensus candidate partly because Democratic values, but also because of my effectiveness as a policy maker over the years, and the fact that I know how to win tough elections. I beat two out-of-touch Republican incumbents in really tough districts. I filed my petitions a month ago, I’m on the ballot, I’ve got no Democratic challengers, and my running mate, Lisa Brown, already. So we are ready to win.

The minimum wage is a very important priority the me. I’ve supported raising the minimum wage since I ran an anti-poverty agency in the ’80s and early ’90s, early in my career. And I introduced my own proposal last November to raise the minimum wage to $9.25 an hour, indexed to inflation, and give a million low-wage earners in Michigan a raise. Rick Snyder said that the minimum wage was not a significant issue, in response to my proposal. At the same time, he gave his top investment offices 80 and 90% pay raises. We see what his priorities are. There’s a ballot campaign to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. I signed the petition. I think that’s a proposal that would do great things for families and our economy. The legislature… We’ll see what happens… I’ve seen a lot of games in my time. I was in the legislature twelve years. Today the Senate did something important, and significant, and I commend them for that. They adopted essentially what was my proposal. $9.20 an hour, indexed to inflation, and lift tipped workers as well. It’s a good step. To me, what’s more important than politics is doing what’s right. And giving a million people a long overdo raise and tying that minimum wage to inflation, so that it will increase as the cost of goods goes up, is a good thing.

MAYNARD: But are they doing that to get it off the ballot, so that it won’t drive Democrats to the polls to vote for you?

SCHAUER: Well, I want to be clear. I’m going to beat Rick Snyder whether or not the minimum wage ballot proposal is before voters or not. I want to be clear about that. And I think those low-wage earners are going to know, whether it’s on the ballot or not, which party, and which candidate, is a fighter for fair wages for everyone… So I’m not worried whether it gets on the ballot. I just want to see people who need a raise, get a raise.

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  1. Posted May 16, 2014 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    It’s conceivable that the Michigan House will kill the legislation (Senate bill 934) or that Snyder with veto it, but I don’t see that happening. I suspect it will pass, as that’s the only way to keep the Raise Michigan proposal from the ballot.

    The Raise Michigan ballot initiative, if passed, would have raised the minimum wage from $7.40 to $10.10 by 2017. In contrast, SB 934 will raise the minimum wage to $9.20 an hour by 2017, following this progression:

    $8.40 an hour on September 1st, 2014
    $8.50 an hour on January 1st, 2015
    $8.85 an hour on January 1st, 2016
    $9.20 an hour on January 1st, 2017

  2. Posted May 16, 2014 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    Gretchen Whitmer took to Facebook yesterday to explain why she voted with the Republicans, in favor of SB 934. Here’s what she said.

    Just two days ago, I joined Michigan workers in voicing opposition to SB 934 as an obvious attempt to take away the rights of Michigan families to vote on a meaningful raise in Michigan’s minimum wage.

    In its original form, SB 934 provided a minimal, one-time increase to the state’s minimum wage that was more pandering and political maneuvering than real relief for workers.

    As disappointing as it was to see this legislation introduced, when it became clear that Republicans were intent on passing it and take that choice away from voters, I decided to roll up my sleeves, take a seat at the table and work to make significant changes to the bill to infuse it with some of the real demands of our workers.

    In large part, I’m proud to say we got there.

    This bill passed today is substantially better than the bill that was introduced last week. It provides a meaningful raise to countless workers throughout our state and, more importantly, ensures their wage will properly adjust upward with the rate of inflation in the future without us having to have these politically charged debates over and over again in the legislature.

    Under the legislation passed today, Michigan’s minimum wage will rise to $8.15 this year, $8.50 in 2015, $8.85 in 2016 and $9.20 in 2017. More importantly, my caucus and I fought to ensure the minimum wage will automatically adjust higher with the rate of inflation starting in 2018 and beyond.

    Yet, while I’m proud of the substantial changes we were able to make to the bill, I do remain frustrated that this bill’s intent and outcome remains ending the ballot initiative brought forward by the people of Michigan.

    I continue to ask the question: When did we become so afraid of letting the people of Michigan have their voices heard?

    The Raise Michigan group deserves our thanks. They fought and continue to fight for Michigan’s workers and I am grateful for their tireless commitment to securing a fair wage for Michigan workers. This discussion never would have come to fruition without them forcing the issue.

    It was disappointing to cast this vote knowing that this bill will interfere with their ballot initiative, but it was clear that my Republican colleagues were going to do so with or without our support. In the end, I would rather fight to make the bill a close approximation of what our workers deserve want than nothing at all.

    To Michigan’s workers, I simply say that we fought for you. Your voices were at the table. And we passed a bill that’s going to make a difference.

    I wish it were more. I wish it preserved your right to vote on this. Even more, I wish I had the gavel in my hand so I ensure you ALWAYS had that right.

    I’m proud to have helped create a bill that will at least give our workers the help they need, even if it falls short of what they actually deserve from their legislature.

    [note: The emphasis above is mine.]

  3. Posted May 16, 2014 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    I asked Representative Jeff Irwin what he made of this Republican move to get the minimum wage off the ballot and here’s what he had to say.

    This is a fascinating situation that is playing out in Lansing. The good news is that $9.20 is a significant jump and the inflationary adjustment is in there. This is much, much better than Sen Richardville’s original proposal. The bad news is that if this becomes law, it will invalidate the work of citizens who’ve been gathering signatures for an even bigger effort. Also, the relatively slow pace of wage adjustments in the new legislation means that the $9.20 rate won’t kick in until 2017. Generally, I’d think that a bird in hand is better than two in the bush; but I want to speak with workers, petitioners, constituents, and local businesses before I decide how to vote on whatever the Speaker puts forward. Also, this is unquestionably motivated by the Republican party’s concerns about this measure landing on the November ballot. Not only would the measure be likely to motivate democratic leaning voters, it’s presence on the ballot would put every Republican candidate in a trick bag.

  4. T. Kelly
    Posted May 17, 2014 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    He has to stay positive on the surface, but this was a huge blow to his campaign, and a really smart move on the part of Republicans. Polling showed that $10.10 was going to pass in November. They got almost $1 an hour less, and kept it off the ballot at the same time. I hate the Republicans, but they’re smart.

  5. Kathi Geukes
    Posted May 17, 2014 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    No T. Kelly…Rethuglicans aren’t smart…just sneaky….which tells everyone in this state that they DON’T care about us…just the Koch Bros. and the DeVos’s…..they never have…it’s time to boot them out of office and bring OUR Michigan back…..kick out all charter schools….get rid of Aarmark in the prisons…and actually put people back to work…and definitely get rid of Right Not To Work!!!!!!

  6. Eel
    Posted May 17, 2014 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Do the Greffs keep him locked up down there?

  7. SOS
    Posted May 17, 2014 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Yes, they’re holding him down there for Snyder.

  8. Posted May 17, 2014 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    In the actual basement of Arbor is a cage-type thing. I am putting Cheney there when we capture him during the Revolution (but I am removing the beer first). Just calling dibs now.

  9. Posted May 17, 2014 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, I should have said that the cage thing stores their cellared beers…it’s not something freaky or anything.

  10. Bob
    Posted May 18, 2014 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    Arbor Brewing Co. evidently reneged on a pledge to support the WCBN show with the Hentchmen, last weekend at Metal in Ann Arbor. Other sponsors came through and we all drank free Hamm’s, which tastes better than their bullshit anyway.

  11. Posted May 27, 2014 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    Rick Snyder just signed $9.25 into law.

3 Trackbacks

  1. […] As you may recall, the same thing happened not too long ago in Muskegon Heights, where the Governor-appointed Emergency Manager determined that, in an effort to save money, they’d eliminate public education altogether, replacing it with an an all-charter system. As Democratic candidate for Governor Mark Schauer told us on this site a few weeks ago, that failed too. […]

  2. […] [If you find yourself wanting more, check out my interview with Mark Schauer over beers in the basement of Arbor Brewing.] […]

  3. By I am disappointed in you, my fellow Michiganders on November 6, 2014 at 9:21 am

    […] thing… This never would have happened had the Republicans not successfully maneuvered to get minimum wage off the ballot. Had the that proposal been in front of voters this year, I don’t doubt for a minute that we […]

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