Snyder delivers message of opportunity at State of the State address

Gov. Rick Snyder outlined his vision for a revitalized Michigan, focusing on government structured from the people’s point of view, or as he called it “The River of Opportunity.”

“This country was founded as a nation of opportunity,” Snyder said. “But too many of our residents find themselves with barriers in that River of Opportunity, whether it’s because they are struggling with poverty, don’t have parents in their lives, lack a good education, suffer from an illness or disability, or don’t have transportation necessary for school or work. Government and nonprofits are in the forefront of offering help, but we must fundamentally reshape the way in which we do that."

Snyder cited four years of strong fiscal stewardship, thoughtful policymaking, bold innovation and genuine leadership as factors in giving Michigan a platform for continued growth. He pointed to increased focus on state infrastructure, elementary education, continued economic growth and the reorganization of the departments of Community Health and Human Services to create the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services as ways to continue Michigan’s rebound.

"Our governor kept bringing up this phrase of opportunity," said Vice President of College Democrats Tim Minotas. "So many middle income families have never seen this river of opportunity while Snyder has been governor, that is something I think Michigan is lagging behind."

Minotas viewed the address with other democrats in Lansing Tuesday. He said the atmosphere in the room among his peers was skeptical.

"He is making it seem like Michigan is in a comeback when so many Michigan families are bearing the burden while gives out tax breaks to the wealthy corporations," Minotas said. "People like me and our family are not feeling this comeback that he is trying to advance."

CMU's College Republicans were not available for comment.

Snyder said he will increase efforts to improve the transition from high school to higher education, with a focus on career counseling, technical training in the skilled trades, and dual-enrollment and online learning. He plans to include specific trades-related spending in his budget proposal.

Snyder called for passage of a lawmaker-approved constitutional amendment on the May 5 statewide ballot that would increase the sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent as part of a deal to pump $1.3 billion more annually into roads, bridges and public transit.

Gender and LGBTQ issues were touched on by Snyder as well. He ontinued debate on legislation that would amend Michigan’s civil rights law to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation on gender identity.

Snyder also asked legislators to authorize spending for an outside commission to focus on third-grade reading to improve children’s education.

“We will reorganize government so it treats individuals as real people, not as numbers on a page, as too often is the case with myriad programs that lack coordination,” Snyder said. “It’s time to maximize our resources on solutions, not bureaucracy. Working with people as complete human-beings enables us to more effectively solve root causes of barriers to success, rather than just the symptoms. Our goal must be to create opportunities, not dependencies. We can do this, and I look forward to continuing my partnership with the Legislature and stakeholders statewide.”