5 things to look for during Gov. Snyder's State of the State address
Last year, Gov. Rick Snyder pledged to help struggling residents re-enter what he called the “river of opportunity,” but his 2016 State of the State address comes on the heels of nationwide outrage over lead contamination in drinking water drawn from the Flint River.
Snyder will deliver his State of the State address tonight at 7 p.m., and though he’s likely to touch on major policy that was passed in 2015, a few volatile issues are likely to will overshadow whatever positive outlook he had planned for the speech. Here are five things to watch for during tonight's address.
1. The Flint Water Crisis
Drinking water in Flint became contaminated April 2014 while the city was under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager. The city began switched drawing its drinking water from Lake Huron to the Flint River as a cost-cutting move while waiting for a new pipeline to Lake Huron to be completed.
After the water supply was found to contain high levels of lead, criticism is mounting that officials ignored or neglected indicators of a growing crisis that Snyder has publicly called "a disaster." Amid calls for his resignation and even arrest, Snyder will have to devote a significant portion of his speech to how he will fix this tenuous situation.
2. Higher education affordability
A prominent issue among presidential candidates in the Democratic primaries is the accessibility of higher education. President Barack Obama also briefly mentioned the topic in his State of the Union speech to the topic.
Look for Snyder to touch on the burden placed on students to complete college. Increased university spending, coupled with lower state appropriations per student, has been recognized by the Michigan House Fiscal Agency as a growing concern.
3. Public school funding, especially in Detroit
Another topic expected to be addressed tonight is the issue of Detroit Public Schools. The District is heavily in debt after funding cuts, and although Snyder proposed a $700 million plan to fix things, dozens of schools in the area overseen by a state-appointed emergency manager have closed.
In October, Snyder announced a legislative package that would establish a new Detroit school district while leaving the old district in place to pay off Detroit Public Schools' crippling debt. Expect him to talk about investment in Detroit and K-12 education across the state.
4. Michigan's economy, roads funding
Once Snyder moves past the controversies facing his office, he will likely reflect on the victories of 2015. Snyder will likely talk about the long-awaited $1.2 billion road funding plan that passed the legislature in November, the future of clean energy in the state, keeping skilled workers in Michigan, and the strength of the economy in general.
5. Coverage from Central Michigan Life
We are sending a team to Lansing tonight to report from the Capitol Building. During the address, we'll be tweeting live updates from @CMLife us using #MISOTS2016. Check out our snapchat account "cmlife" and watch our periscope channel for photos and video at the event and afterward, head to cm-life.com to read a recap of the speech and reaction from student groups on campus.