Governor Rick Snyder has laid out his budget plan for the coming year. He wants the state to save more, pay down debt and spend on infrastructure.
Republicans in the Legislature are not necessarily opposed to those ideas, but many of them are also calling for tax cuts, which means less money for those things Snyder wants.
And this is just one of the looming friction points facing Snyder and his fellow Republicans as the governor begins his final two years in office. The term-limited lame duck is facing down a large class of conservative freshman and GOP leaders who are looking to put the brakes on spending and to be seen as doing so.
In fact, this past weekend at the Michigan Republican Party convention, state House Speaker Tom Leonard declared this Wednesday “Grassroots Day” at the state Capitol. Leonard says state House committees will take up bills to roll back Michigan’s income tax and to shut down Common Core, the education standards loathed by many conservatives.
These are essentially throw downs on Snyder’s agenda. Though, it doesn’t mean political war. At least, not a loud public one.
And, we should point out that Snyder and his fellow Republicans - particularly in the state House - have had major differences in every year of every session: a new international bridge connecting Detroit to Windsor, the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, road funding, fixing Detroit schools…
So, the governor’s current mood on policy differences? He’s pretty chill.
“I look forward to having a healthy dialogue,” Snyder told It’s Just Politics. He says anyone in the Legislature can introduce a bill, and hearings, well, they happen all the time. “And it’s just communicating and making sure people can appreciate people have different perspectives.”
But the governor’s thrown down, too. He says if Republicans want a tax cut, they have to show where they’ll also cut spending.
Time, however, is not on the governor’s side. This is his second-to-last budget.
Snyder wants his legacy to be one of fiscally-sound budgets. And, from the very beginning, he has aspired to be an infrastructure governor - bridges, roads, thriving public transit in southeast Michigan. An upgraded Saint Lawrence Seaway, and an air hub that, all put together, make Michigan the center of an Upper Midwest-Canadian economic zone.
That is a lot to get done with only two years left, and a lot of persuading and trading that will have to take place. Particularly among fellow Republicans.
For Rick Snyder, now more than ever, the focus isn’t just on what to do next, but what he will leave behind.