Snyder introduces ‘roadmap’ for state

Published 12:12 am Thursday, January 20, 2011

Gov. Rick Snyder unveiled his roadmap he hopes will lead to the “reinvention of Michigan” during his first State of the State address Wednesday night.

Snyder made it clear that his focus will be on economic development.

“Job one is jobs,” he said. “A solution will take time. There are no quick fixes or magic solutions.”

Snyder’s goal is to present a two-year budget, “focused on outcomes and results,” to the legislature by mid-February with the entire budget process complete by May 31.

State Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, who introduced a resolution for a two-year state budget plan to the legislature Wednesday, was happy to hear the governor’s support.

“Businesses and people plan several years out,” he said. “This shows the rest of the state and the nation that Michigan is looking ahead and planning for future success.”

Snyder also announced his desire to eliminate the Michigan Business Tax, which he described as “job-killing,” and to replace it with a 6 percent corporate net income tax.

To help build the economy, Snyder called for a “better and stronger” Michigan Economic Development Corp. focused on “economic gardening” as opposed to “hunting” by focusing on building businesses already in the state.

“Economic gardening” is not a new concept to Proos, who helped put together a 33-page document on the idea in an ad hoc committee in the House of Representatives.

“We need to invest in the entrepreneurial spirit. It needs to be the backbone of Michigan’s future,” Proos said. “Then the large businesses we’ve been trying to draw across the state line will find Michigan the most attractive place to come.”

State Rep. Sharon Tyler, R-Niles, who was named vice chair of the commerce committee, agrees.

“We didn’t do a good job at retaining businesses. We need to take care of our own and begin growing our own,” she said.

Snyder also called for the Department of Civil Rights to develop initiatives to encourage immigrants with advanced college degrees to move to Michigan.

“One-half of startups in Silicon Valley have a foreign national as one of the founders. Immigration made us a great state and country. We need to embrace the concept again as a way to speed our reinvention,” Snyder said.

To help the agriculture industry, Snyder asked lawmakers to strengthen the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program to make it a seal of assurance, so that farmers who run environmentally-sound operations are protected from unnecessary regulations and frivolous lawsuits.

“Agriculture is a significant economic driver for our state in terms of jobs and wealth creation,” Proos said. “And for our governor to identify that is a breath of fresh air for an industry that has prevented the state from falling behind further.”

Snyder also announced his budget recommendation will include $25 million to keep funding the “Pure Michigan” tourism advertising campaign.

“A 2009 study showed that every dollar spent on ‘Pure Michigan’ advertising resulted in more than $2 in tax revenue for the state,” he said.

Also items on Snyder’s “roadmap” were government reform at all levels, a renewed focus on education focused on “P-20 not just K-12” and better healthcare in terms of access, quality and cost.

In order to track the success of Snyder’s plan, he introduced the Michigan Dashboard. Available online at, this Michigan “report card” shows the status of progress in five objectives — economic growth, education, public health and safety, value for taxpayer dollars in government and overall quality of life.

“The State of the State will from now on be a report card of where we are as a state,” Snyder said. “It will be a realistic assessment of where we are improving, where we are not improving and what we need to do to move forward.”

Tyler believes Snyder’s message was a reassuring one.

“It gives you a lot of hope,” she said. “You can feel we are moving forward. We are not going to take the bandage approach anymore.”

Snyder’s plan for government transparency also struck a chord with Tyler, who liked the message he developed on the campaign trail.

“People are tired of all the games,” she said.