LANSING, MI (WLNS) – In his seventh State of the State address, Governor Rick Snyder did not waste any time talking about the accomplishments Michigan has made in the past year.
From job growth, to education, to an increase in the state’s population, to an update on the Flint water crisis.
The governor said more than 500,000 private sector jobs have been created in our state since 2010.
“Every day since 2010, on average 220 Michiganders woke up with a new career opportunity,” Gov. Snyder said. “Waking up with a purpose and possibilities…with the opportunity to get ahead, not fall behind. We’re at the lowest unemployment in 15 years, 10 points below our high of June 2009.”
When it comes to Michigan’s population, the governor said our state has seen significant growth, but he also set a goal for our state, for the next three years.
“We need to grow Michigan. We need to grow our population. I’ve talked about how we’ve been growing, but if you look at over the last six years, we’ve added about 50 thousand people over the last six years. But I want to set a real goal,” he said. “We can grow faster tonight. We can do better. Particularly with some of these great programs we have talked about tonight. Our goal should be to reach 10 million again.”
The governor also acknowledged some of the major issues currently facing our state, including the Flint water crisis and aging infrastructure, saying every corner of our state is at risk.
Gov. Snyder adding that he would like to invest billions of dollars to make improvements.
“Water quality we need to improve, we learned that from the Flint situation and I’m excited to be proposing a stricter standard than the federal government, in the lead and copper rule, we need a better rule, that was part of the problem, we need to have lower acceptable levels, we need to have better testing protocols, better notification, better public input,” Gov. Snyder said.
When it comes to Flint, the governor said “We’ve made progress, but our work is not done.”
Snyder said to date; more than 600 pipes have been replaced. The State of Michigan has given $27 million for thousands of lead pipe replacements for Flint, 65 four year-olds from Flint attended preschool over the summer thanks to expanded preschool programs.
He also added more than 800 new jobs have been filled in Flint, including jobs at water resource sites, manufacturing jobs, and other positions.
To date, $234 million has been given to help the city of Flint recover from the crisis.
Republicans say they liked what they heard, especially when it comes to jobs and education.
“We’ve done a great number of work over the last six years to put Michigan in a better spot, measuring all kinds of things that are important, personal income growth, unemployment, all of those things,” Arlan Meekhof R-Senate Majority Leader said. “We have done an excellent, excellent, job. Put Michigan in the top of the list where we were at the bottom of the list a few years ago.”
“Obviously we gotta make sure we continue to prioritize; spending priorities, infrastructure investment, continue to address the issue in Flint, but overall I think we made some great progress and it was good to point that out,” Rep. Tom Barrett R-Potterville said.
Rep. Barrett also said he’d like to see our state do more when it comes to auto no-fault reform.
“That’s an issue that I think is holding back the state with more economic opportunity, more job providers to come here and more money that people can save and keep in their own pocket and then spend in other ways to benefit more businesses,” he said.
However Democrats say, they hoped the governor would have added a few more items to that list, including addressing long term solutions when it comes to fixing Flint and our state as a whole.”
“I didn’t hear how he was going to deal with the long term health issues of the children in Flint, I didn’t hear about how we’re going to help communities that had the state balances budget on their backs, over $7.5 billion taken away from those communities over the last decade in a half,” Sam Singh D-House Minority Leader said.
“The economy is getting better, manufacturing has made a turnaround, really pleaded with the investment that the federal government made in the auto bailout and rescue, that has helped our economy move forward,” Rep. Singh said. “But again, if we’re going to try to help our economy meets the needs of the average Michigander we have to do more.”
Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. D-East Lansing agrees.
“I think we heard a lot about metrics, but we didn’t hear a lot about real people,” Sen. Hertel said. “While the economy has gotten better for corporations, still people are paying more taxes and getting less from their government and I think we need to hear more about that. I think we need to hear more about working men and women and how to improve their lives in the state. You look at the student debt crisis, the average kid graduates Michigan with $30,000 in debt…heard very little about that.”
Attorney General Bill Schuette also weighed in, speaking to the governor’s enthusiasm.
“I thought he was very enthusiastic and I think people want leaders who understand problems, I think people are tired of all the critics who are maybe angry, or antagonistic, or argumentative, they want folks who understand there are challenges,” Schuette said. “That doesn’t mean you always have to agree, but I think that’s what people are looking for, some of the solutions in Michigan’s future about jobs and paychecks and how you lower taxes, I think another issue is about education choices, that’s why I’m so excited about Betsy DeVos’s nomination and the big policy issue in the future is this race to mobility.”