More than halfway through a turbulent second term and amidst campaigns gearing up to elect his successor, Gov. Rick Snyder (R) focused his second-to-last trip to the Mackinac Policy Conference in office about the state’s growing economy. The governor’s 21st Century Economy Commission released its final report last Wednesday with ambitious recommendations on job creation and improving the state’s business climate.
Snyder reflects with Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson on the economy, and his remaining battles with state legislators over pension reform and the state budget.
“Let’s not take Michigan’s economy for granted,” he says. “Relative to the rest of the country, we’ve been among the fastest rising (in per capita income), and most people should be feeling some positive effects from that.”
Many of the report’s proposals, however, will likely be difficult to get through Republican lawmakers, who earlier this month rejected Snyder’s budget to create their own spending plan. Snyder chalks up the impasse to “a lack of institutional memory” in the state Legislature—especially in ongoing clashes on restructuring teachers’ pensions.
“We made big reforms that dealt with much of the risk to pensions in 2012 that were tough decisions, but there’s not one person in the House now who was there when we made those calls,” Snyder says.
Though much of the controversy on the Flint water crisis has died down, Snyder says he’s still focused on revitalizing Flint as a part of his economic agenda through 2018.
“Flint comes down to job creation as well,” he says. “ One of the things we’re talking about is the new jobs project, which is a way to get jobs going in not just urban areas, but all corners of the state. The question in Michigan is no longer is there a job, but do you have the skills to get there?”
Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.