Expect Gov. Rick Snyder to tout his administration’s successes and to push again for stalled legislative agenda items in his fourth and final State of the State address before the November election.
The address, set for 7 p.m. Thursday, is one of Snyder’s largest platforms for both advancing his legislative agenda and reaching out to Michigan voters ahead of his re-election bid.
Snyder is also expected to tout recent economic gains, including the addition of more than 220,000 private sector jobs since December 2010, as signs of Michigan being a “comeback state,” as his administration likes to put it.
“Michigan is at its best when men and women in every corner of our state pull together for a more prosperous future,” Snyder said in a statement. “That’s what we saw in 2013, and the results are apparent.”
As he has in past State of the State addresses, Snyder is expected to speak about improving mental health services and investing upwards of $1 billion more annually on road projects, among other proposals. While those initiatives have stalled recently, he might be better able to advocate for them now that the state is projecting a $971 million surplus.
“The revenue projections today are evidence that our policies are working and that Michigan is the comeback state,” Snyder said. “We’ve addressed our financial problems head on, and we have moved away from our decade of decline. Because of that hard work, we’re in a position today to look and move forward. We must focus on what is best for Michiganders and our state’s future, investing strategically so everyone benefits, Michigan becomes stronger and our comeback continues.”
Central Michigan University political science professor Orlando Perez said the governor has been largely successful in passing items on his agenda after proposing them in his annual address.
“Snyder has been able to get a majority of the items he has proposed in the past, so the address sets the tone and agenda for the legislative session,” Perez said.
A Detroit Free Press study found Snyder to have “completed or made progress” on 76 percent of his pledges made in his first three addresses.
Perez said he would like to see higher education funding take a place on Snyder’s agenda.
“I believe education funding should be a top priority,” Perez said. “Sustainable energy programs are also important for the state, as well as economic development.”
The address is one of Snyder’s last chances to focus on legislative items ahead of the November election.
A December poll, released by the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling, found Snyder ahead of likely Democratic challenger, Mark Schauer, by 4 percent, 44-40.
The poll found 42 percent approve of Snyder’s job performance, while 49 percent disapprove. However, he maintains an edge over Schauer due to name recognition (just 36 percent of those polled have an opinion one way or the other on him) and anti-Democratic sentiments that have grown in recent months due in large part to the rocky rollout of the Affordable Care Act.
“The key races in Michigan are reflective of what we’re seeing throughout the country now,” said Dean Debnam, PPP president . “The political climate has turned sharply against the Democrats.”
Perez said the race is likely to come down to the wire.
“It is probably too early to tell definitively, but it seems the race will be very close, with a slight edge to the governor,” he said.