Snyder Administration Quiet About State of the State

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Gov. Rick Snyder's first State of the State address is likely to be a bit of pep talk and a chance to review where Michigan is falling short and set new goals for improvement.
Snyder is not expected to say Wednesday exactly where he plans to cut spending to deal with a shortfall of about $1.8 billion in the state budget. Those details won't be made public until his budget proposal is ready in mid-February.
But the new Republican governor probably will present his grading system for measuring progress toward goals such as improving residents' health, adding jobs and improving education. And he's likely to talk about the sacrifices he expects everyone to make as he works to "reinvent" Michigan.
Snyder gave an inkling of what was to come in his Jan. 1 inaugural address, when he said, "Many have already made sacrifices. Many of us need to join those who have already contributed." He also noted that "the old unbelievable needs to become the new achievable."
Among the changes the governor may call for Wednesday is reduced compensation for public workers. Snyder has made it clear he wants to bring the salaries and benefits of teachers and state and local government workers more in line with the private sector. He also wants to get rid of tax exemptions that aren't working and reduce business taxes and regulation in an effort to add jobs.
He may talk about making sure more students are succeeding, insisting that 3rd graders be proficient in reading and all students score better on standardized tests. He also may discuss ways to make local governments lower their personnel costs and share more services. And he is likely to tell residents that they must do their part by exercising, quitting smoking and following a more healthy lifestyle.
Wednesday's 7 p.m. address to a joint session of the House and Senate in the House chamber will be Snyder's first chance to give state residents specifics on his administration's goals. The address is expected to be about 40 minutes long, shorter than State of the State addresses in recent decades.
The governor's office doesn't plan to hand out embargoed copies of the speech, as past governors have done, or provide copies of the speech after he's delivered it. Snyder is not expected to work off a formal text.
That has made catching Snyder's remarks on public television and radio stations that carry it live a priority for many residents curious about what he has to say. The speech also will be shown live on the Michigan Government Television cable station and by some other news outlets.
Michigan Manufacturers Association Vice President Michael Johnston said Tuesday that he hopes to hear more specifics about what Snyder intends to do to reduce business taxes. He isn't sure about the governor's plan to replace the Michigan Business Tax with a 6 percent income tax on major corporations. MMA has 2,500 members, from large corporations down to sole proprietorships, which could be treated differently under Snyder's plan.
"I need to understand what he means by that," Johnston said.
Michigan Democratic Chairman Mark Brewer said he's eager for Snyder to flesh out his proposals.
"We're looking for details of what he intends to do to balance the Michigan budget and create jobs," Brewer said. "If he stands by his three principals of bipartisanship, shared sacrifice and leaving no one behind, we will work with him."
The Michigan Education Association also is willing to work with Snyder to improve education. Leaders of the state's largest teachers union said Tuesday that they want to eliminate some tax exemptions that don't produce jobs and reduce the amount of remedial coursework college students must take because their high school classes didn't adequately prepare them.
The Michigan AFL-CIO said the governor needs to talk about how he's going to add jobs, a topic that's expected to be a major part of the speech.
The former venture capitalist and Gateway computer executive already has brought a different tone and operating style to the Capitol. Snyder declined to move into the official governor's residence in Lansing, remaining instead in his spacious home just outside Ann Arbor. Although Republicans control the House and Senate, he has called for more bipartisanship.
Snyder is continuing the tradition of holding a reception after the State of the State address for cabinet members, Supreme Court justices and invited guests at the Lansing governor's residence.


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