On the Job: Governor Snyder's Priorities

By: Sherene Tagharobi Email
By: Sherene Tagharobi Email

The governor seemed comfortable walking into his new job Monday morning. Staffers spent Sunday settling into their new office. By Monday, the governor was meeting with more than a dozen senior staff members. Governor Rick Snyder says he wants to map out a two year budget by July.

"Seven weeks is a year, and that's how I like to measure time. We're going to say there are 3.7 dog years in those 182 days so can we get four years of work done in six months?" he asked.

Whether the governor can speed up the budget process remains to be seen, but based on his agenda the first day on the job, he isn't wasting any time.

"I'm excited. I've got meetings with Mike Finney on economic development and John Nixon on the budget, so if you want to go through your priority list, that's where we've been the last couple years in terms of what needs to be done and we're going to follow through on that starting today," Snyder said.

Political analyst Jeff Williams says the governor is wise to propose a two year budget rather than ask legislators to make dramatic cuts this year and next.

"We're down to the cuts no one wants to make," said Williams of Public Sector Consultants. "The cuts in departments everyone has held harmless."

Departments like social services, education, and corrections -- three areas the state is spending billions. Williams says it's going to take major cuts -- not small ones here and there -- to balance the budget.

"When the car payment is due you don't immediately look under the sofa for loose change," Williams said.

Governor Snyder says his administration will focus on making government more efficient, hoping that'll solve budget problems without new revenue.

The governor plans to issue executive orders this week, formalizing some organizational changes like splitting the departments of Natural Resources and Environmental Quality.

The governor may have left the business world for politics -- but that doesn't mean he isn't bringing a bit of it with him to the Capitol.

He talked this morning about inspiring entreprenuership, the idea being business-friendly policy will lead to more jobs.

Snyder's spokesperson says he'll also take a business approach to governing.

That means he'll take what successful private companies are doing and apply it at the state level.

Williams says there are lessons to be learned from business -- but it's a delicate line to walk.

"Businesses can choose to not have product lines," he said. "It's very difficult as a state to choose to not have product lines. The state will be running jails no matter what. The state will be running schools no matter what."

And Williams says perhaps there will be things the state will have to stop doing -- such as sharing revenue with cities.

It's already cut back on revenue-sharing over the last few years, but with a 1.8 billion dollar hole to close, municipalities may have to look to taxpayers to fund services traditionally paid for or subsidized by the state.

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