Governor Rick Snyder delivered his first State of the State Tuesday evening and outlined a “road map” of initiatives his administration plans to tackle during the course of his term.
Snyder said the state of Michigan is in a crisis that can only be solved by working together and adopting an attitude of “relentless positive action.”
“We have a multitude of problems that we’ll work to solve in a systematic fashion through honesty, hard work and teamwork,” he said. “The solution will take time. There are no quick fixes or magic solutions.”
Snyder said progress cannot be made without cooperation from both Democrats and Republicans.
“We will not continue the fighting that resulted in rhetoric and paralysis,” he said.
State Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) agreed with Snyder on this issue and said “bitter partisan politics” created an unproductive time in Michigan history.
“Michigan citizens deserve solutions, not political posturing and empty rhetoric,” she said in a statement. “To make it clear, Democrats are ready to partner in problem solving to move all of Michigan forward – without stubbornly defending the tired old fights that have handcuffed our state Legislature in years past.”
Snyder said for every State of the State address he delivers, he will present the “Michigan Dashboard.”
The dashboard will be comprised of 21 different measures in five key areas and he said it is designed to give everyone easily understood information. Snyder likened the dashboard to a report card system.
“It includes Michigan’s current standing in particular categories, such as unemployment,” he said. “You’ll see whether that trend is improving in terms of moving in a positive or negative direction. And where feasible, it will include Michigan’s national rank.”
The measurable areas are economic growth, health and education, value for government, quality of life and public safety, the governor said.
Snyder discussed the specifics of economic development which, according to him, revolves around jobs.
Early on in the address, Snyder pointed out how young people have been hit hard by the economic downturn.
“We have far too many young people who are not leaving school with the education they need to succeed in the future,” he said. “We have an economic climate. It has left too many people unemployed, underemployed or forced to leave the state. Particularly our young people.”
Graduate student Derek Anderson said he watched the State of the State address for the first time because he wanted to know what the governor planned to do to create jobs.
“I’ve never been too interested in politics,” Anderson said. “That changed when I tried to find a job and I couldn’t. These people we elect have more power than some may think.”
By mid-February, Snyder plans to present a budget to the Legislature.
“We will present a two-year budget,” he said. “Having a two-year budget will force tough decisions. We will not play kick the can down the road to the next year.”
Snyder said his budget will include the elimination of the “job-killing” Michigan business tax. He plans to replace it with a 6 percent tax.
The governor said the state needs to provide better services for less money and he encouraged local jurisdictions—including schools and universities—to move to “service consolidation.”
In a message to students, staff, and faculty members, Eastern Michigan University President Susan Martin informed the campus community the future ahead may include tighter budgets and less funding from the government.
“It is important that as we address a future that may include further state funding reductions for all of Michigan’s universities, we at Eastern determine priorities that will allow our growth and success to continue,” Martin said. “This will require a more comprehensive strategic planning process to identify our key growth areas and guide our reinvestment to our strengths. We cannot afford to sit back and wait for change to come to us, to be forced on us.”
Snyder said he plans to present a special message on education to the Legislature in April.
“…We must do more to help students achieve academic success,” he said. “We’ve been spending money without delivering the results to give our young people a bright future.”
The educational system should run from pre-natal to lifelong learning, Snyder said.
“It’s time to start talking about B-20 instead of just K-12,” he said. “We need to establish a system that focuses on real achievement for all of our children. We cannot leave children behind without the tools for success in their adult lives, but we also need to encourage better and faster opportunities for children that can go farther and faster in our system.”
Snyder wants to establish an initiative that would encourage immigrants with advanced college degrees to come to Michigan to live and work.
“I’ve asked the Department of Civil Rights to work with the MEDC in this effort. We need to be a place that openly encourages innovators and entrepreneurs to come to our state,” Snyder said. “The evidence is clear that advance college degree immigrants make a tremendous difference in creating a positive economic activity environment that benefits us all.”
Snyder said the state needs to embrace immigrants because they can help to speed up the “reinvention.”
“About half of the startups in Silicon Valley have a foreign national as a founder,” he said. Immigration made us a great state and country.”
Governor Snyder announced an initiative designed to attract young adults to Detroit. The partnership between Henry Ford Health System, the Detroit Medical Center and Wayne State University seeks to bring 15,000 young, educated to live in Midtown Detroit by 2015.
“We hope this model will inspire others across Michigan to rebuild their urban cores,” he said.
Junior Jessica Williams said she was surprised to hear of the initiative to attract young adults to her hometown of Detroit.
“It’s nice to hear something positive about Detroit for a change,” she said. “I just hope he sticks with it and sees it through. I want to stay here after I graduate, but things have to get better.”
Snyder also announced a research collaboration between Procter & Gamble and the University Research Corridor institutions—the University of Michigan, Wayne State University, and Michigan State University.
“It’s groundbreaking,” he said. “It will also provide opportunities for Michigan students to gain firsthand exposure to large companies and the real business world, while exposing these companies to top talent and potential future employees.”
Snyder said once the project is up and running, it will be extended to all of the public institutions in the state.
Snyder said he also plans to develop a dashboard system for state government performance in all of the state departments. Snyder said summaries are already available on the Michigan.gov website.
The governor said turning the state around will require help from the state as a whole.
“All 10 million of us have a role to play,” he said. “The simple truth is the reinvention of Michigan is just as much on what each citizen does as what me and my team do or what this Legislature does.”
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