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Gov Candidate Talks GM, Clinton, Education On WWJ

Lansing Mayor and gubernatorial candidate Virg Bernero said Tuesday evening that General Motors plans to announce a new investment in its Delta Township-Lansing plant Wednesday afternoon. The announcement is set for 3 p.m. Wednesday, however Bernero won't be there. He'll be campaigning.

During a special 30-minute WWJ News Special, Bernero said he's also working on another big announcement from General Motors.

"We're fighting for another big announcement for GM, we're in the hunt for a new plant expansion, a new global platform that will be a $200 million, 600 and some job expansion that we're in the hunt for," Bernero told WWJ's Bill Stevens and Jayne Bower. "I'm not giving up on manufacturing, I'm not waving the white flag.

WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick reported Tuesday afternoon that former President Bill Clinton will be coming to Michigan to campaign for Bernero and other Democrats. Bernero said he has no confirmation that Clinton is coming, but would welcome a visit even though they don't agree on the North American Free Trade Agreement.

"As you know I'm not a big fan of NAFTA at all, I think we need fair trade, not free trade," Bernero said.

As for a poll showing Bernero trailing Republican Rick Snyder by 20%, Bernero said he wasn't surprised.

"I'm the little engine that could, I think I've got the better plan, I've got the plan to grow the economy," Bernero said while encouraging voters to look at both his website and Snyder's website.

On education, Bernero said the so-called reforms and mandates on the education system must stop. He said he supports all-day kindergarten for every child, reasonable class sizes and wants to focus on cutting the drop out rate.

"The drop out rate of course contributes to our problem with corrections, the prison system because we know the number one common denominator for prisoners is that they are high school dropouts," Bernero said adding he'd bring back truancy officers to make sure kids are in school.

Bernero said he would gather a "blue ribbon task force" to redesign financing for public education.

On other issues:
--Bernero said he won't try to undo the smoking ban in Michigan bars and restaurants.
--On the film tax credits, Bernero said he has no plans to eliminate the credit. "It's working, it's attracting new business, it's helping to diversify the economy, it's attracting young people," he said.
--Bernero said he opposes Proposal 1, a statewide ballot proposal which calls for a constitutional convention. "Right now we have to be focused on the economic problems facing the state."
--He said he hasn't studied Proposal 2 yet. That ballot question would amend the state constitution to prohibit certain felons from holding elective office and specified types of public employment positions.
--Bernero said he is "leaning pretty strongly" against keeping bars open until 4 a.m. He said extending the hours would push people to drink more and later.

The election is November 2nd.

WWJ has invited Republican nominee Rick Snyder to talk about the issues next week.

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