Governor Rick Snyder was optimistic and upbeat Monday morning when he spoke at the DHR International corporate leadership breakfast at the Detroit Athletic Club.
At the breakfast that drew nearly 100 Michigan business leaders, Snyder touted Michigan’s economic progress since he was elected in 2010 and blasted the ballot proposals that will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot.
“Our economy has been growing. Michigan automakers have produced twice as many cars than in 2009. Home prices are starting to pick back up,” Snyder told the crowd.
But he reminded attendees that the state still has a way to go before complete economic recovery. He said one major path to progress is development of roads and bridges to bring commerce to the state as well as youth mentorships to retain talent.
Snyder called the 6 ballot measures “impediments” to the state’s progress. “I say yes on [proposal] 1 and no on the rest,” he said, supporting the emergency manager law (now proposal 1) that was suspended after a Michigan Supreme Court decision to put the law to a public vote.
“These ballot measures are here largely to take us back in time. They will take us back to the economic climate of 2009 and 2008,” he said.
When asked why there are so many ballot initiatives this year, Snyder said it has to do with the reforms he has been making to state policy.
“It’s a reaction to the reinvention of Michigan,” Snyder said of the 6 statewide ballot measures. “People don’t like change.”
In the future to prevent the barrage of ballot proposals Snyder said he plans to move toward regulating how petitions are gathered. He said paid circulators who are paid per-signature are backed by deep pocketed organizations but don’t disclose important details when collecting signatures.
“People don’t get the full scoop before they sign,” he said. “There is a good reform opportunity with respect to paid circulators.”
Detroit was also a repeated topic of discussion. Snyder said the City of Detroit would face worse cutbacks under a bankruptcy judge than under Public Act 4. He compared what could happen to the City of Detroit to what has happed with the City’s water department.
“People want to scream at me for what’s going on with the water department, but that was a federal judge’s decision,” Snyder said. “If there’s no emergency manager law, bankruptcy is [Detroit’s] the only option.”
Still, Snyder said it is more important to look at the positive things that are happening in the state. Michigan’s biggest problem has been an internal one, according to Snyder.
“We are our biggest problem in this state. We are too negative, fighting all the time. How much time do we spend looking in the rearview mirror?” Snyder asked. “We don’t solve problems with blame.”
For the first time in decades, Snyder said the state is seeing a comeback.
“Michigan has seen a downward trend for the past 50 years,” he said. “The first uptick was in 2011,” he said. “Let’s continue the reinvention with relentless positive action.”
Snyder said part of that uptick was evidenced by the creation of 1,500 jobs with the opening of General Motor’s new innovation center in Warren. He said with the help of the Michigan Department of Economic Growth, General Motors was able to bring back the kind of jobs that the state has been missing for so long.
“These are the great jobs. These are the jobs that retain talent,” Snyder told the press after his speech.
Public and private sector relationships are crucial according to Snyder because the government is not an employment service in his opinion.
“The role of government is not to create jobs,” Snyder said. “The role of government is customer service. It’s very simple.”