Finley and Jacques: Schuette best hope for continuing growth

Editor's note: The Detroit News is making recommendations in a number of state and local races on the Nov. 6 election ballot. To maximize our resources and give our readers a more balanced and comprehensive view of the candidates and issues, The News is using a different approach this year. Some of the selections will bear the traditional endorsement of the newspaper’s editorial board. In other races, we'll offer the personal recommendations of our editorial columnists, Nolan Finley and Ingrid Jacques, along with columns from alternative viewpoints. As always, our mission is to provide our readers with the resources to help them make informed choices on Election Day.

Few candidates for governor in Michigan have ever been as qualified as Bill Schuette.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Schuette announces he has selected Lisa Posthumus-Lyons as his running mate during an event at Kent County Republican Headquarters in Grand Rapids on  August 15.

The Republican attorney general comes to the race with a deep governing resume. Along with his current office, Schuette has served as a congressman and state senator from districts around his hometown of Midland. He's also been a state appellate court judge.

He would bring to the governor's office a deep understanding of the roles and responsibilities of each branch of government.

Just as important, he knows how to play the political game.

Political naivete hampered the effectiveness of both the current governor, Rick Snyder, and his predecessor, Jennifer Granholm. Schuette is not likely to be outmaneuvered by the Legislature, nor will he be thwarted by the special interest lobbyists who control so much of the policy-making in the era of term limits.

His political acumen rivals that of former Gov. John Engler, who was clearly the man in charge in Lansing during his tenure.

Schuette is a scrapper, tenacious in pursuit of his goals. If there is a rap against him, it's that he sometimes allows personal ambition to cloud his decision-making. We felt that was the case in his prosecution of Snyder administration officials over the Flint water crisis, and said so.

Alternate view: Why Whitmer should be our next leader

Ironically, even though Snyder has refused to endorse Schuette, the attorney general offers the best hope of sustaining the substantive reforms the governor put in place over his eight years in office.

Schuette would keep in place the tax and regulatory changes Snyder enacted to make Michigan more attractive to jobs and investment. Under Republican leadership, Michigan has moved from the bottom of most economic measures to among the fastest growing states in the nation. That's not by accident. It's a product of smart, pro-growth policies.

Schuette embraces the Snyder agenda, and advocates for further improvements in the tax climate to bring back the 300,000 jobs still missing from the Lost Decade. 

Michigan must grow if it is to return to the prosperity and influence of its pre-recession past. Schuette pledges to make both economic and population growth a top priority. 

Left undone from the Snyder years is effective education reform, and a long-term plan for raising the money to fix Michigan's roads and keep them fixed.

Neither Schuette nor his Democratic rival, Gretchen Whitmer, are proposing a bold remodeling of education.

We like the Republican's idea of focusing on literacy -- all learning starts with reading -- but a bigger, more aggressive strategy is needed if Michigan is to move out of its bottom 10 education standing. Schuette does, however, support the necessary step of eliminating the independent, elected state school board that has worked against a coordinated effort at raising education achievement. 

He would give more support to the classrooms, saying, "The war against teachers is over."

Schuette also must get more realistic about what it's going to take to repair Michigan's shattered infrastructure. His plan for capturing savings from improving the efficiency of current road spending and the new revenue from the internet sales tax won't raise near the $4 billion needed annually to repair roads and bridges and replace water and sewage lines.

Contrary to the campaign attacks leveled at Schuette, he says he will maintain Snyder's Healthy Michigan program, but try to make it less costly ahead of the federal government's funding cuts. 

The attorney general supports corrections reform, promising more rehabilitative services for inmates. And he also backs further restraints on  the legalized theft known as civil asset forfeiture.

Michigan has been on a positive economic trajectory under Republican leadership. 

Returning the state to Democratic control risks replacing the pro-growth policies responsible for its comeback with that party's swelling affection for socialist solutions.

Michigan can't afford to go backward. Bill Schuette offers the best hope of continuing the state's forward progress. We're voting for him, and urge you to as well.