LANSING, Mich.— Gov. Rick Snyder highlighted his administration’s successes and laid out his reasoning for Michigan being named a “comeback state” in his fourth State of the State address Thursday.
Although education was high on his agenda for the speech, Snyder failed to make any mention of higher education.
Speaking before the Michigan Legislature at the state capitol Thursday, the Republican incumbent, who is up for re-election in November, contrasted the state’s present-day successes with the problems he faced upon entering office. He referenced to Michigan as a “comeback state” repeatedly as he has in previous addresses.
“We’ve come farther and faster than any other state since the beginning of the Great Recession,” Snyder said.
Before he even took the stage, Michigan Democrats were already becoming vocal in their criticism of Snyder’s policies.
“This is a governor who wakes up every morning supporting policies that work well if you’re wealthy, or well-connected, or a corporate special interest, but aren’t working for regular Michiganders,” Democratic gubernatorial nominee Mark Schauer said in a press conference Thursday morning.
Senate Democratic leader Gretchen Whitmer also attacked Snyder for Michigan’s struggling job market, referring to his earlier speeches and promises to increase jobs.
“Governor Snyder’s track record from his State of the State speeches is one of broken promises and unfulfilled plans,” Whitmer said in a news release following the speech. “We only need to look back to his first address to the state in which he said ‘job one is jobs,’ yet three years later, Michigan has the 2nd-highest unemployment rate in the nation.”
The Governor spent much of his address highlighting his administration’s successes and goals related to pre-school and K-12 education, while continuing to neglect higher education.
One of Snyder’s education proposals was a pitch to launch a pilot program in underperforming school districts to end summer vacations and operate year-round. He also commended Special Olympics CEO Lois Arnold, who was in attendance for Project Unify, a program that partners children with and without mental disabilities to promote educational and personal growth.
“There’s evidence out there to show they can learn much of what they learn because they’re not in an active learning mode,” Snyder said.
He touted the state’s $52 million federal Race to the Top grant for K-12 education and a $65 million investment in early childhood education, which he proposed to invest another $65 million in this year.
“We’re going to make it a no-wait state for early childhood education in the state of Michigan,” Snyder said.
While failing to go into specifics, Snyder proposed a tax cut for Michiganders, pointing to the state’s $971 million budget surplus as the reason.
“When we have this discussion, let’s try to stay focused that we’re staying fiscally responsible, not just for us but for our children,” he said.
Notably, pointing to the state’s budget, he called on the Michigan House and Senate to draft a resolution calling on the federal government to adopt a constitutional amendment that requires it to balance the federal budget.
“Hey, we balance our budget at home, we balance our budget at work,” Snyder said to thunderous applause from Republican legislators. “Why can’t the government balance theirs?”
The governor called on the state to invest in infrastructure, calling the investments a missed opportunity from 2013.
“We do need to invest more in our roads,” Snyder said. “I think we’re seeing that now. We’re entering pothole season now, folks.”
He applauded Democrats for their “strong support” in expanding Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act.
Snyder also called on the U.S. to reform its immigration system and to make Michigan an attractive place for immigrants. He plans to sign an executive order to create a state immigration office.
“If someone has the opportunity to come to our country legally, let’s say with open arms, ‘Come to Michigan, this is the place to be,’” he said.