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    Who are the NERD fund donors Mr Snyder?

    Raise the curtain.

    RightMichigan Exclusive: An Interview with Representative Kenneth Kurtz (R-Coldwater)

    By Nick, Section News
    Posted on Fri May 15, 2009 at 06:45:24 AM EST
    Tags: Exclusive, interview, Kenneth Kurtz, Coldwater, 58th, agriculture, family, English, deficit, task force (all tags)

    We talk so often here about the things that are going wrong in Lansing and what the tax-and-spenders are up to that I think it's important to check in with the good guys from time to time to get their take on the issues facing taxpayers and the legislature today.

    The GOP House minority continues to sponsor and introduce legislation, to work behind the scenes and to try to figure out some sort of positive solution to this tax-hike / budget mess.

    We rarely hear about that in the MSM.

    Being a member of a legislative minority makes it tough to garner headlines. But they're working hard and they're trying to make a difference.

    This week I spoke with freshman Representative Kenneth Kurtz (R-Coldwater).

    Interview after the break...

    Representative Kurtz, thank you for taking a few minutes out of what I know for you is a pretty crazy May schedule.

    Thanks Nick. It's always great to have these discussions with true a conservative.

    Absolutely!  Now, this is your first year as a member of the state legislature but you jumped in head first.  Not only are you fulfilling your primary responsibilities as a lawmaker and a representative for your constituents in the 58th District but you've also been named to several fairly prominent task forces and panels since you arrived in Lansing.

    Down in Branch and Hillsdale Counties agriculture is a huge sector of the local economy so let's start with the House Republican Agriculture Task Force.  What is the purpose of the task force and what have you been hearing from farmers across the state?

    You are right in the fact that agriculture is so vital to my district. When you look at the numbers it is one of the only sectors of our economy that has had growth during our downturn. That is why I have been so amazed at the attacks to the MSU extension, MAEAP, and the Right to Farm program. Our state would never treat the car industry in the same way as the governor has treated agriculture.

    As far as the task force goes we are currently in the organizational stages. I really see this task force as a way for the farmers from throughout our state to stand up and have a voice. I am really excited to allow them to let us know about their industry and what we can do to help. When I talk to farmers in my area it seems the best thing the state can do is get out of the way of their progress and after owning and operating my own business for many years that only seems like common sense to me.  

    The Ag task force was one of many that Minority Leader Elsenheimer announced at the beginning of the year.  How have they or can they benefit Michiganders?

    Well just as I see the Ag task force helping farmers these task forces give a voice to the people. I have never been an elected official before this year so I can say this pretty easy. It really seems that with some politicians you only get to talk to them when they are on the campaign trail. This Republican caucus is not filled with those kinds of politicians. We care about the people in our communities and would like to receive ideas from them. I truly believe that I wasn't elected because I knew everything about every issue we face in the state today but I can listen to people and understand the situation they are going through. These task forces let us understand the individual situation people face and bring that understanding to the capitol. It isn't legislators telling citizens what should be done, it is citizens telling the legislator what should be done. That is really what representation is and should be about.

    Of course, Agriculture isn't your only area of focus, or expertise.  I understand you were recently appointed to the Human Services & Welfare Committee of the National Conference of State Legislatures to help identify and articulate model policies for legislatures across the country.

    First, can you tell us a little bit about your background advocating for kids and families and then can you tell us about the committee?

    For many years my wife and I had been foster parents. We often took children into our home and tried to help them in a time of need.  These were children that did not always have a voice in many areas but their needs were and are just as great as any other child. They need the love and the care of someone on a daily basis. I have also been an advocate for families through my profession as a funeral director. I have always done my best to console and provide support for an entire family in a time of great need. I also believe I can draw upon my pastoral experience and the support structure of the church as we look for solutions for the problems we face.

    I am greatly honored to be named to this specific committee because of my background. I have always been in support of the traditional family and family values. This is the best for our children and their future. I am looking forward to working with other legislators from the entire nation and to bring back some of the best practices from throughout the nation to help make Michigan one of the most efficient states in the nation in regards to Human Services and Welfare policy.

    Great!  Alright, transitioning back to Lansing, one of the first initiatives you approached when you got to the Capitol City was working to make English the official language of the state of Michigan.  With Michigan's economy in the dumps, is that still an important issue?

    I believe it is an important issue for many reasons and the first is fiscal. I believe we need it more than ever. We are in a time where we are laying off State Police Troopers and letting thousands of prisoners out before we normally would but we still are printing driving exams in every language under the sun. The amount of printed material our state produces is astounding. We are at a time to ask ourselves what is most important and fund only the priorities. This could truly be the first step to fiscal responsibility in our state. Every act like this will add up over time.

    I think it is easy to overlook how much taxpayer cash can be saved with a move like that!  What's the status on the bill today?

    The bill is in the Judiciary committee. I am hoping for the chair to take the bill up but I am not holding my breath.

    What is your overall perception of the people and the process in Lansing now, four and a half months into the experience?

    I am very impressed with the desire of legislators to change the system, especially members of the freshman class. I have really found a spirit of "we are here now lets get something done". I still am on a learning curve as far as the process in Lansing. I don't believe that I am alone in being frustrated with the pace of progress in the Capitol. In my area if we have a problem we sit down with a cup of coffee and figure it out. In Lansing we wait and see if it will go away until it is too late and then we try to cover it up and blame the other guy. Its not that the issues that are taken up aren't important to someone but at this time economic recovery is important to the entire state and I don't feel like it is always at the top of the list.

    The big news the last two weeks has been the surging budget deficit and the governor's executive order cuts.  Did she cut enough and where do we look in the 2010 budget cycle that begins a few months from now?

    I am happy we are finally making the cuts we should have made long ago. I am concerned about where the cuts are being made. When the people at the top are in charge of cutting the budget there are always cuts from the bottom up. I believe that we need a top down approach. When you cut department management you see more savings and less interruption of vital services. We don't need to cut the snow plow driver or the corrections officer when there is a middle manager who is doing busy work to quantify his or her job.

    If the Democrats ask you to vote to raise taxes, claiming it's the only way, will you vote YES or NO?

    There is no way in good conscience that I can take away more money from people that are struggling. The way I look at it is that people should not need to fund the wants of government it needs to be the other way around.

    So how DO we get Michigan's economy moving again?  I mean, we could go back and forth with high minded theory all day, but practically speaking, what has to happen in Lansing to get the worm to turn?

    The first thing we need to do is step up to the plate and take responsibility for our state. Many people want to pass the buck. Just because an elected official wasn't here when the problem started doesn't mean they are not responsible for fixing it now. Everyone needs to do the work of the people of the state.

    The next thing we have to do is actually give an incentive to provide jobs here. We need a complete overhaul of the present tax system to become a job friendly state. Business creates revenue not bigger government. When the CEO's of major companies were polled Michigan was at the bottom of states they would start in or move their business to. They ranked Michigan 3rd from the bottom for best places to do business. We were only in the top 10 in one category. If we want jobs in Michigan we truly must care to get them here. The cost of business, business friendliness, and access to capitol must get better if we want jobs in this state.

    Representative, thanks again, I know you're pinched.  Is there anything else you'd like to cover before I let you go?

    Yes, have confidence in your legislator but also don't take anything for granted. Let your legislator know your thoughts and concerns. We have a long road to recovery. We must work together realizing that is will not be easy. The other thing is to work within your community to strengthen it. Lansing will not be able to do it all, nor should it. We must return to community values and community support if we are to return to solid ground.

    < Friday in the Sphere: May 15 | Former DEQ Director applauds reigning-in of DEQ bureaucracy >

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    Alot of great ideas ! (none / 0) (#1)
    by Eric T on Fri May 15, 2009 at 10:05:24 PM EST
    Great interview,

    This one, looks like it could put the state on the right track.

    When the people at the top are in charge of cutting the budget there are always cuts from the bottom up. I believe that we need a top down approach. When you cut department management you see more savings and less interruption of vital services.

    The People of Michigan need more leaders like Kenneth Kurtz.

    There is no way in good conscience that I can take away more money from people that are struggling.

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