COLUMN: Snyder’s time has had ups and downs, but the bad outweigh the good
While Gov. Rick Snyder may have helped Michigan recover from recession, his time is plagued with frequent missteps.
Nothing short of a miracle could change my view of a governor who may have mortally wounded unions with his Right to Work law, destroyed public schools and poisoned the poor in one of the largest cities in the state.
In his 2018 State of the State address, Snyder stressed his accomplishments before briefly admitting one of his deadly mistakes.
Snyder seemed most proud to cite his improvements on the economy.
Despite my criticism, the unemployment rate in Michigan dropped from 9 percent to 4 percent during his terms, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics— an undoubtable improvement.
I also commend his efforts to improve some of Michigan’s biggest issues, including his efforts in areas such as health care, women in STEM and criminal justice problems in the state.
In May 2015, he put out a statement that read: “We should allocate our resources to address the root causes of criminal behavior, such as mental health issues, substance abuse, child neglect and truancy, which can prevent crimes from happening in the first place.”
That was a vital first step in the criminal justice reform he discussed in his address.
Snyder also touched on other bipartisan issues, such as improving the environment and schools in Michigan.
However, his time spent on those subjects was nothing but lip service.
In regard to education, Snyder’s terms have allowed an expanding in funding for charter schools — an experiment that has exploded and lined the pockets of their private founders with public money.
He did this all while holding 3 percent of teachers' wages hostage between 2010 and 2013.
Those teachers still haven’t received that pay.
In an effort to destroy unions in Michigan, Snyder signed “Right to Work” — a law aimed to obliterate the bargaining power of the state’s workers. Unions in Michigan have been, and still are, vital to ensuring workers’ rights and fair wages.
That includes teaching unions.
Those are not the biggest travesties committed during Snyder’s time as governor.
While several have died from the Flint water crisis, the extent of the damage does not end there.
According to a study done by David Slusky and Daniel Grossman, professors at the University of Kansas, “fewer babies being born there — through reduced fertility rates and higher fetal death rates — compared with other Michigan cities during that time.”
This misstep is simply un-redeemable.
It took too long and cost the health of too many Michiganders to fix the drinking water in Flint.
“We took immediate action and in the following days and months we’ve worked tirelessly to make Flint’s water safe to drink again…,” Snyder said in his address.
Tests as far back as 2015 concluded the water in Flint was harmful. That conclusion wasn’t overturned until January 2017, hardly “immediate action.”
Running on a campaign message of “one tough nerd” Snyder pledged to fix the budget issues in Michigan.
He did so at the cost of the state’s citizens.
To improve the state’s budget, Snyder sacrificed the wages, benefits, health and education of Michiganders.
Snyder started his term with an image that set him apart from the average politician.
Voters on both sides of the aisle were enticed by his promises and ambition to fix Michigan’s problems.
Snyder’s State of the State address strikes me as an admission of failure to improve the lives of people who call Michigan home.
Sure, residents in suburban areas of the state might see better job prospects than they did prior to 2011, but how does that help children permanently damaged by their drinking water?
That moral debate is something Snyder did not cover in his State of the State address.