2012-02-16 / Columns

Snyder Budget Offers Education Incentives

Michigan Politics
By George Weeks

From the start of statehood in 1837, the story of Michigan and its governors has been one of boom/bust/rebound.

The early vibes of Michigan’s latest rebound, giving the state a modest budget surplus after years of austerity, enabled Governor Rick Snyder last week to present a budget with increases for public safety, schools, and universities.

He proposed a $47 million increase for the Michigan State Police and more funding for public safety in cities. He noted that Detroit, Flint, Pontiac, and Saginaw rank among the nation’s top 10 in violent crime.

Under his education budget, school districts would compete for $70 million in extra state money to encourage “best practices.” Another incentive: increased funding for public universities that hold tuition increases to 4% or less.

Snyder also proposed a one-time $119 million appropriation from the general fund for roads and bridges as a match enabling the state to draw its full allotment of federal highway funds.

Snyder presented his budget to a joint House and Senate committee at the state Capitol, where he said: “Michigan is on a positive path to success.” He then jazzed up his budget pitch by staging a “Reinventing Michigan Online Town Hall” on his proposals.

His predecessor, Governor Jennifer Granholm, took advantage of the technology to do online gigs but nothing quite like Snyder’s event last week.

Early in Snyder’s Facebook video exchange, “John of Holland,” in posing a question about railroads, called himself “a real nerd.” Snyder, who campaigned as “one tough nerd,” said, “I’m glad I have a fellow nerd on the phone,” and proclaimed, “we’re making a real comeback.”

Snyder reiterated his opposition to making a push for Michigan to becoming a Right to Work state. It would be “too divisive,” he said.

After Snyder left the program, there were hundreds of written exchanges by others on taxes, bridges over the Detroit River, and a wide range of other issues.

There were many favorable comments about Snyder, but “Bee- Jay47” said: “Hey, fellow bloggers—You really think the Gov will read this? Yeah, right.”

Boosts for Benishek

Freshman 1st District U.S. Representative Dan Benishek (R-Crystal Falls) got a double boost last week when Snyder and 11-term 4th District U.S. Representative Dave Camp (R-Midland) signed on as honorary co-chairs of Benishek’s reelection campaign.

While not surprising that Republicans support their own, it is significant in this instance that Snyder has not so far been endorsing in the 2012 election cycle and that Camp is endorsing in a district that includes Grand Traverse area counties that are currently in his 4th District but will be in the 1st District under redistricting.

Benishek, a surgeon in Iron Mountain, said: “It means a lot to me that both our governor and one of the leaders of the House have agree to assist my campaign. After serving just one year in Congress, running for re-election is a daunting challenge but the support of Governor Snyder and Congressman Camp is very encouraging.”

Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said: “Dan brings a needed breath of fresh air to Congress. I know Dan is committed to reducing the size of the federal government while reforming the tax code to help grow the economy and create much needed jobs.”

Snyder said Benishek has “delivered a much needed dose of common sense to the debate surrounding our nation’s fiscal crisis in Washington, D.C. He has correctly identified and spoken out about the negative impact fiscal irresponsibility will have on future generations. Dan has also worked tirelessly to address the needs of our nation’s heroes, our veterans.

“As your Governor I am proud to serve as co-chair of Dan’s reelection campaign and look forward to continuing to join with him to provide northern Michigan the public service it expects and deserves.”

George Weeks, a member of the Michigan Journalism Hall of fame, for 22 years was the political columnist for The Detroit News and previously with UPI as Lansing Bureau Chief and foreign editor in Washington. His weekly Michigan Politics column is syndicated by Superior Features.

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