What to Expect from Snyder's State of the State

The policy staffers at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy are looking for Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to offer some specifics about how he will “fix” the state. Snyder will give his first State of the State address on Wednesday in Lansing.

“This is maybe the most important speech he gives,” said Russ Harding, the Mackinac Center’s senior environmental analyst. “This will set the tone from where he is coming from.”

Snyder takes over a state that faces a “true deficit” of $2.05 billion.

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Michael LaFaive, director of the Mackinac Center's Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative, said that Snyder’s speech shouldn’t have the upbeat tone of previous speeches.

“His words must be sober because the cookie jars are empty,” LaFaive said.

LaFaive said he hopes that Snyder doesn’t offer any initiatives that would expand government in his speech. The Mackinac Center has tracked how many proposals increase government and how many limit government in state-of-the-state speeches going back to 1969. Last year, Governor Jennifer Granholm’s address had eight proposals for government expansion and three for limiting government.

The tracking reveals that Gov. William Milliken was the only governor to propose no expansions in an address. That happened in 1974.

Paul Kersey, the Mackinac Center’s director of labor policy, said Snyder must address public employee collective bargaining on Wednesday. Collective bargaining is the process whereby the state, local governments and school districts negotiate with public employee unions over pay and benefits.

Kersey said he’d like to see Snyder address some of the costs that public sector unions are creating. For example, the Michigan Education Association bargains to get its members covered by the Michigan Education Special Services Association health insurance plan, Kersey said. MESSA is an MEA-controlled insurance policy that is often more costly than other options.

Harding said a State of the State address is a time for specific proposals.

“Now is the time to govern,” Harding said. “Is he going to do it? To me, in a State of the State you ought to be laying out specific proposals that will make drastic changes. People are trying to figure out what he is trying to do. This, to some degree, is his unveiling.”

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