We spoke with Gov. Rick Snyder briefly Saturday morning, as he prepared to deliver the commencement address at Michigan State University.
Michigan Radio: After a week that drew public protest over a number of measures passed by a lame-duck legislature, what message do you have for the new graduates about how democracy works in our state?
Gov. Snyder: Well, when you give a commencement speech, you can go one of two paths: You can talk about public policy, or you can speak to the graduates. I’m going to speak to the graduates about their careers, and try to pass on the lessons I’ve learned, so it’s really not about public policy today. This is a thing for the kids, and I’m excited to see these young adults graduate from Michigan State University.
Michigan Radio: What message do you have for the graduates?
Gov. Snyder: It’s really how to follow your passion. How to build a career in terms of having a vision. How to leverage mentors. A lot of the lessons I learned that I’ve found to be very helpful. The thing is, if you can help pass on a few points that really help people have a more positive experience, it’s a great thing.
And the other one is, I hope they’ll stay in Michigan.
Michigan Radio: What will encourage them to stay in Michigan? What has happened over these last several years as we’ve battled a recession that will encourage them to do that?
Gov. Snyder: Well, we’re bringing more jobs to Michigan. There are two levels. The first level was for a number of years we were losing jobs so quickly they just didn’t have a job available. That’s still more challenging than I would like it to be, but it’s improved fairly dramatically over the last couple of years. The second thing is the great quality of life, where they can be with friends and family, enjoy the Great Lakes, all the wonderful things we have to offer in this state. And that’s improved. It’s one of the important things to keep us going in the long term is to have these wonderful, young, bright people stay in the state.
Michigan Radio: The eyes of the nation are on Newtown, Connecticut after a gunman attacked an elementary school. You have on your desk a measure that will allow people to carry concealed weapons on school grounds, in day-care centers, stadiums and churches. Will you sign that legislation?
Gov. Snyder: It hasn’t arrived on my desk. And it was just a terrible tragedy in Connecticut. Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone there. I know everyone in the nation feels that way, and it does give you real pause about whether what’s in this bill is appropriate or not.
Michigan Radio: So you haven’t made up your mind yet?
Gov. Snyder: I haven’t had the bill arrive on my desk yet.
Michigan Radio: You also have a bill awaiting your signature that would add restrictions for abortion providers. Are you planning to sign that legislation?
Gov. Snyder: Same situation. There were a number of amendments and different things going on with the bills in this last week. Literally, there are hundreds out there, so I don’t make decisions on bills until I’ve had a chance to see what was finally passed. And this is a case where I haven’t seen the final bill that was passed. It’s still coming my way. So over the next two or three weeks, we’ve got a lot of bills to look at, and we’ll be doing it in a very thoughtful fashion and a thorough fashion.
Michigan Radio: There’s also a revamped version of the emergency manager law. How will that one fare on your desk?
Gov. Snyder: Well, again, I need to see what amendments and changes were made. That was one that we put forward as one of our initiatives, to deal with the situation of meeting good governance in our cities in emergencies. So that was something I think we listened well to what the people said back in November, and added a number of features that dealt with giving more local voice in the emergency manger process, including having the local city council make the decision of which choices, they would like, from emergency manager to consent agreement to a settlement or bankruptcy.