July 30, 2014 - John Reilly is challenging incumbent Brad Jacobsen in the Aug. 5 Republican primary race for the 46th District seat in the Michigan House of Representatives because he believes the GOP is betraying its principles and needs to return to its roots.
Reilly (click for larger version)
"I think there's a lack of Republicans that are holding to values that the Republicans are known for," said the 56-year-old Oakland Township resident. 'I think that they are inconsistent (when it comes to) voting for Republican values."
Reilly believes Republicans should be fighting for "smaller government and less regulation."
"Instead, we are doing the opposite," he said.
An example he used was Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and the Republican-led Legislature's decision to expand Medicaid eligibility for low-income residents under Obamacare, the nickname for the federal government's Affordable Care Act.
The state program, which is called the Healthy Michigan Plan, provides health insurance to residents ages 19 to 64 who are not currently eligible for Medicaid or Medicare and who earn up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, which is approximately $16,000 for a single person and $33,000 for a family of four.
Reilly opposes this expansion of the welfare state and views it as the Republicans helping to "implement" Obamacare.
If elected to the state House, Reilly said he'd vote consistently to "bring control back to the state" on various issues "and quit giving it away to the federal government."
Reilly is opposed to taking funds from the federal government when they have "strings attached," meaning in exchange for the money, Washington gets to impose certain requirements on how things are done at the state and local levels.
A "good example" of this, in his opinion, was Michigan's decision to compete for "Race to the Top" education funds, which he claims gives the federal government more "control" over schools.
Launched in 2009 by U.S. President Barack Obama, Race to the Top is a contest in which states can earn a piece of more than $4 billion in federal funding by implementing certain educational policies and reforms designed to improve teaching and learning with the goal being to make K-12 students ready for college and careers. According to the White House website, "19 states have received funding so far" and "34 states modified state education laws or policies to facilitate needed change."
"We tend to vote for those kinds of things," Reilly said. "I think that we should not be voting for those things . . . We should be rejecting those things. We have to start reversing the direction of what we're doing."
But it's not just encroaching federal control over state and local governments that bothers Reilly. He believes there are aspects of state government that need to change as well.
For instance, Reilly claims the state is guilty of "overregulation."
"Look at the licensing," he said. "Go to the (state's) website and see all the licensing we have. I think that impedes start-up companies. You want to get the economy rolling and you're impeding it by having all these licensing requirements that I think (exist) just to create fees and revenue for the state."
Reilly is also opposed to the state's "favoring of one industry over another" through tax incentives. He cited the special incentives given to the film industry as an example.
"The state shouldn't be in the business of doing that," he said. "I'd like to see some equity there."
On the education front, Reilly is passionately opposed to the Michigan's adoption of Common Core State Standards for its schools.
"(It's about) giving more control to a larger government, which is against common sense," he said. "It violates the core principle that you (should) always keep things at the lowest level of government possible . . . Unless there's a reason that you need to go to a higher level of government, you (should) stick to the lowest level possible."
Launched in 2009 by state leaders, including governors and state commissioners of education from 48 states, two territories and the District of Columbia, Common Core State Standards "establish clear, consistent guidelines for what every student should know and be able to do in math and English language arts" from grades K-12, according to the Common Core website.
To date, 43 states have voluntarily adopted Common Core standards. Common Core is a state-led effort that's not part of any federal initiative, according to the website.
Reilly believes that instead of nationalizing schools or having the State of Michigan take more control over them, "we should be doing the opposite."
"The state should be relinquishing some control to the local school districts," he said. "We're going (in) the wrong direction."
He views Common Core as constraining teachers with more rules and diminishing the individuality of students and teachers alike with one-size-fits-all standards.
"The other thing (is) it's unproven. It's an unproven (program)," Reilly added. "What are we doing going with an unproven method? That's ridiculous."
Reilly's political experience includes serving as the Republican precinct captain for Oakland Township and being an active member of the leadership committee for the Greater Oakland GOP. He's lived in Oakland Township for 15 years.
His work experience includes being employed in the automotive engineering field for 20 years and operating his own home repair service for the last 12 years.
In his personal life, Reilly has been married to his wife Karen, who's the Oakland Township clerk, for 29 years and has four grown children.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.