Politics & Government
10:14 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Snyder signs multiple bills in "exciting day for Detroit"

Detroit Red Wings' owner Mike Ilitch, right, reaches to shake Governor Snyder's hand. Snyder signed legislation to subsidize a proposed new Red Wings arena.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Governor Snyder was in Detroit Wednesday to sign several bills he says will boost the city's long-term fortunes.

One bill establishes a Regional Transit Authority to fund and operating mass transit in southeast Michigan.

It represented a victory in a decades-long fight by transit advocates. Detroit is the largest metro area in the country without such an authority, and US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood had warned federal money for transit projects would be withheld until an RTA was formed.

Detroit State Senator Bert Johnson says after more than two-dozen attempts derailed by regional divisions, the major players finally bought into the idea.

“Whether we were Republican or Democrat or independent, or white or black or suburban or urban, you name it…we found a reason to unite on something that has divided this region for decades," Johnson said.

Snyder also signed bills establishing an authority to run Detroit’s troubled public lighting system; continuing a downtown development district to subsidize a proposed new hockey arena for the Red Wings; and directing funds to boost local food systems at Eastern Market.

The Governor said it was time to celebrate Detroit’s success and potential. “If you think about these four projects, what a huge package of projects that we can do in this city, and this region, together,” he said. “So it’s exciting.”

But as the Governor struck a positive tone, he spoke throughout the event against the backdrop of noisy demonstrators just outside. They had gathered outside to protest, among other things, Snyder’s recent approval of right-to-work laws.