Rick Snyder

Politics
6:14 pm
Tue November 22, 2011

Governor extends benefits to foster kids who "age out"

Governor Rick Snyder signed a law today to extend benefits for children who grew up in foster care after they turn 18 years old. The new law will allow foster kids to continue to receive a housing subsidy and health coverage until the age of 21, and to continue to work with foster care caseworkers.

The extended benefits will be available to young adults who are enrolled in college or job training, or working at least 80 hours a month.

The governor says Michigan owes it to children who would otherwise lose their support system when they become legal adults.

Read more
Politics
4:15 pm
Mon November 21, 2011

Snyder to sign law nudging foster kids to college

Foster kids who used to “age out” of the system at 18 years old will continue to get state financial support under legislation Governor Rick Snyder is expected to sign tomorrow.

The measure is designed to help more college bound foster children maintain a support system after they become legal adults.

Jack Kresnak directs the advocacy group Michigan’s Children.

“The state is taking an important step forward to help the young people that we as a society have taken out of their parents’ care and placed in the state’s care succeed – this will help many, many more young people succeed,” Kresnak said.

The new law means young adults who grew up in foster care will continue to qualify for a housing subsidy and Medicaid health coverage. 

Kresnak said he would like to see the law amended in the future to give former foster kids who opt out of going to college a chance to change their minds and reenter the system. He said colleges and universities can also do more to help former foster kids succeed.

Politics
6:23 am
Mon November 21, 2011

Governor, Legislature need to find $60 million to balance budget

When the Legislature returns to the state Capitol next week, there will be another item added to its to-do list. That is: coming up with millions of dollars to fill a budget gap created by the state Supreme Court decision on Michigan’s new pension tax. The court upheld the tax on pensions, but said denying a tax break to some higher-earners effectively created a graduated income tax.

A graduated income tax is not allowed under the state constitution. That part of the decision also blew a $60 million hole in the state budget. Sixty million dollars is a small part of a general fund budget that exceeds $8 billion.

But it is an amount the governor and the Legislature will need to make up to meet their obligation under the state constitution to have a balanced budget. One possibility would be to use a projected surplus from last year’s budget to fill the gap. That number becomes official in January. But it appears the surplus will be somewhere near $400 million.

Lawmakers are already fighting over what to do with that money. Democrats say it should be used to restore some budget cuts to schools. Republicans say it should go into the state’s “rainy day” savings fund, or to pay down debt.

Politics
10:23 pm
Thu November 17, 2011

Detroit Mayor's plea for payment gets cool reception in Lansing

Critics and allies alike say Detroit Mayor Dave Bing's proposal to get the state to pay the city more than $200 million faces an uphill battle.

It’s one of the ideas the Mayor has outlined to keep the city from going broke.

In 1998, Detroit lowered its city income tax in exchange for guaranteed levels of state revenue sharing. But city officials say the state reneged, and shorted Detroit about $220 million it was promised.

Bing says that would be enough to erase the city’s structural deficit, and the $45-million shortfall the city expects this year.

Read more
Detroit
7:39 am
Thu November 17, 2011

Mayor Bing: City government is broken

Bernt Rostad Flickr

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing addressed his city’s dire financial straits last night in a televised speech in which he said, “simply put, our city is in a financial crisis and city government is broken.”

“To avoid running out of money by spring, Bing says the city needs to do a whole range of things almost at once. They include increased health care and pension contributions for everyone, including retirees; and 10-percent wage cuts rather than furlough days for current employees. Bing says that needs to include the city’s public safety officers. Those departments eat up about 60% of Detroit’s budget. He adds the city needs to privatize some services—including public lighting, and to some extent its dysfunctional bus system,” Sarah Cwiek reports.

Cwiek was at the mayor’s address and says, “many think it’s only a matter of time before Detroit gets an emergency manager—and some, including Detroit City Council members, think the lack of specifics and deadlines in Bing’s speech made that even more likely.”

This morning, The Detroit Free Press had headlines that included an editorial titled, "Not good enough, Mr. Mayor," and a column by Stephen Henderson, "Numbers don't add up anywhere near city's needs."

Read more
Detroit
7:58 am
Tue November 15, 2011

Report: Detroit to run out of money by April

Detroit city skyline
Ifmuth Flickr

Detroit will run out of money in the first half of next year unless the city cuts its budget, the Detroit Free Press is reporting. From the Freep:

A closely guarded report on Detroit's finances paints an alarming picture of a city that will run out of cash by April unless officials make immediate, painful reductions that will cut deeply in to public services. The report, obtained by the Free Press, outlines some drastic scenarios that illustrate how steep those cuts must be for the city to stay afloat…

The problems are so severe and immediate, restructuring experts said, that the state may have no choice but to appoint an emergency manager with the authority to gut union contracts, sell assets, restructure the government and end nonessential services.

“The mayor plans to speak Wednesday at 6 p.m.,” about the city’s financial situation, the Associated Press reports. As the AP notes, “It's possible that Detroit's poor health could lead to the appointment of an emergency manager with sweeping authority to make changes.”

Read more
Politics
6:16 am
Tue November 15, 2011

Governor, House leader split on timing of health coverage exchanges

Inside the state Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Cedar Bend Flickr

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to hear a challenge to the federal Affordable Care Act has Republicans in Lansing divided on whether to adopt a state mandate in the law. It requires states to create health coverage exchanges for people and business owners to comparison shop online for insurance. It’s become a point of controversy between the governor and the state’s legislative Republicans.

Republican Governor Rick Snyder says the health care exchanges are a good idea that will benefit businesses and consumers regardless of how the Supreme Court rules. The governor says he’s also afraid Michigan would be thrown into a federally designed system if the Legislature does not act quickly. 

“Before the end of the year would be best in terms of being prepared.”

But Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger says he’s in no hurry and would rather wait for the Supreme Court to decide one way or the other.  

“I don’t expect the House to act until or unless we have to act.”

Bolger says he, like many Republicans, believes the federal law is unconstitutional and is likely to be struck down by the nation’s highest court. A decision is not expected before next summer.

Politics
2:33 pm
Mon November 14, 2011

Flint mayor calls for city to 'pull together'

Flint mayor Dayne Walling addresses a city hall audience after being sworn in for his first full four year term
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Flint mayor Dayne Walling said at his swearing in ceremony that the city should not wait for the appointment of an emergency manager to tackle its crime and economic problems.   

“Now is the time for us to pull forward together," Walling told the city hall audience that had come to see him sworn in for his first full four year term as mayor. Walling has been Flint's mayor for the past two years after winning a special election. 

Read more
Politics
6:36 am
Mon November 14, 2011

Snyder could veto first non-budget bill

Governor Rick Snyder must decide soon whether to sign a bill that would restrict the ability of state regulators to impose stricter standards than those applied by the federal government. The proposal would require the Legislature to approve any stricter regulations. Hugh McDiarmid is with the Michigan Environmental Council. He believes the bill is a bad idea.

“This isn’t solely an issue about regulation or the environment," McDiarmid said. "It’s also a little bit about an issue of a power grab where the Legislature is taking power that now belongs to the governor to act, promulgate rules and various things and taking it for themselves.”

Supporters of the bill say Michigan is less competitive in attracting businesses when it imposes stricter rules. Mike Johnston is with the Michigan Manufacturers Association, which favors the bill. 

“When Michigan imposes regulations in excess of federal standards we by definition make ourselves less competitive than other states that don’t have to operate under those excessive regulations,” said Johnston.

A spokeswoman for Governor Snyder says he is concerned with many aspects of the measure. It could be the first bill sent to Snyder by the Republican Legislature that the governor vetoes. He has vetoed some budget line items.

Politics
1:01 am
Mon November 14, 2011

Flint mayor sworn into office today

Dayne Walling celebrating a primary victory in August
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Flint’s mayor takes his oath of office today. What happens next is up to Governor Snyder. Incumbent Dayne Walling won a four year term as Flint’s mayor last week. He’s already been serving as Flint’s mayor for the past two years, since winning a special election.  

The challenge then was to reduce Flint’s massive budget deficit. The challenge now will probably be to work under a state appointed emergency manager.  

On the same day Walling won reelection, Governor Snyder agreed with a state review team that Flint is in a ‘financial emergency’. The governor is expected to name an emergency manager to run the city.  

Walling has indicated he would work with an emergency manager. Though the mayor is not waiting for an emergency manager to be appointed before he makes any changes.

On Friday, Mayor Walling fired or accepted the resignations of Flint’s top city finance and economic development officials.

Politics
10:44 am
Sat November 12, 2011

"It is time for the city to pursue a new direction"

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Flint mayor Dayne Walling won re-election on Tuesday.   

Friday, he started cleaning house.  

On Friday, Walling issued a statement saying he had accepted the resignation of the director of the city’s Department of Community and Economic Development. He also announced two other DCED employees had been fired. Walling also fired city Finance Director Michael Townsend. 

In a written statement, Walling said “it is time for the city to pursue a new direction with respect to the operations of the Finance Department and the Department of Community and Economic Development”

Walling will be sworn in for his new term as mayor on Monday.   

But also in the coming days, Governor Snyder is expected to formally announce his intention to appoint an emergency manager to run the city of Flint. 

Last week, the governor agreed with a state review team that Flint’s finances require outside management to fix.

Politics
4:40 pm
Wed November 9, 2011

Inkster is the latest Michigan city in "financial stress"

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Another Michigan city is moving toward a state takeover.   

The state Treasury Department announced today  that a preliminary review of Inkster’s books shows the city is in "probable financial stress".   

Treasury spokesman Terry Stanton says the city is having trouble solving a multi-million dollar deficit. 

"And the review also found city official have proposed unrealistic budgets and failed to make budget revisions in a timely manner," Stanton says. 

Read more
Politics
12:09 am
Wed November 9, 2011

Flint mayor wins reelection (but may end up losing power)

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Flint mayor Dayne Walling won re-election last night. But it may end up being a temporary victory.

"Tonight…you can see…that the people of the city of Flint…are behind me and my administration," Walling told a cheering crowd at his victory party last night.   

Dayne Walling celebrated his win last night with jubilant supporters. But they all knew that earlier in the day, Governor Snyder accepted a report that said the city of Flint is in a financial emergency.  

The governor is expected to appoint an emergency manager to run the city. Flint officials could appeal the decision. But Walling says he’s prepared to work with a manager appointed by the governor.   

“I’ll do whatever I can to move our city forward," says Walling, "The people have clearly spoken tonight. It’s been two very difficult years.  But now I have a full four year term. I’m proud of what we’ve done over the last two years.”

Walling singled out four city unions that have resisted contract concessions, as part of the reason why Flint is mired in debt.

Politics
4:42 pm
Fri November 4, 2011

Michigan Legislature considers infrastructure funding options

Lawmakers at the state Capitol are considering options to help raise more than $1 billion in additional revenue to fix and maintain Michigan’s bridges and roads. Governor Rick Snyder called on the Legislature to find the money for the state’s aging infrastructure.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville said lawmakers should be able to find the additional funds without raising taxes.

Read more
Transportation
2:27 pm
Tue November 1, 2011

Governor Snyder touts higher speed Rail for Michigan

The 135 miles of rail line from Dearborn to Kalamazoo will be owned by the state of Michigan. The state is purchasing the line from Norfolk Southern Railway with the help of federal stimulus money. Once completed, the upgraded line will increase speeds.
user Want2Know Flickr

Governor Rick Snyder met with lawmakers, federal officials and the railroad industry yesterday to talk about the future of rail transportation in our state.

Rick Pluta is the State Capitol Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He was at the Michigan Rail Summit and he joined me to talk more about this.

So Rick, what did the Governor say?

Rick Pluta: Rebecca, the governor is a big fan of rail service. He says it's a big part of the future of the state.

This is what he had to say to this rail summit:

"This isn't about a piece of rail in Michigan. This is about being the centerpiece of a broader logistical connection that goes all the way from St. Louis to Chicago to Detroit and I would like to see it continue on to Toronto and to Montreal."

Read more
Politics
7:37 am
Tue November 1, 2011

Pontiac's emergency manager fires department heads

Pontiac, Michigan
Dave Garvin Flickr

A state-appointed emergency financial manager for the city of Pontiac has fired the city's clerk, attorney and director of public works in what he says is realignment in City Hall.

The Oakland Press of Pontiac reports Lou Schimmel fired the department heads effective Friday. The changes
are part of what Schimmel, who was appointed to the post in September by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, says is an effort to put together his own team.

The clerk's office is being merged with human resources and the law department is being outsourced.

An employee with United Water, which is contracted to manage the city's wastewater treatment facilities, will run the public works department.

Schimmel was appointed to fill the post held for 14 months by Michael Stampfler.

Flint
3:29 pm
Mon October 31, 2011

Review of Flint's city finances gets 30 day extension

Downtown Flint, Michigan
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

A state team is getting more time to analyze Flint’s city finances.   

The panel’s findings could lead the governor to appoint an emergency manager to run the city.   

The panel’s report was due by the final day of October. But Treasury Department spokesman Terry Stanton says the 8 member team appointed by the governor needed more time to review a few more matters. The governor has granted the review team an additional 30 days. 

Earlier this year, the Treasury Department determined that Flint was in “probable financial stress."  

Read more
Politics
1:29 pm
Mon October 31, 2011

Snyder says rail service 'vital' to Michigan's future

Railroad trestle in Grand Ledge, MI
user joeldinda Flickr

Governor Rick Snyder says improving passenger and freight rail service is "vital to Michigan's future."

He made the remarks in a statement shortly before giving the keynote address Monday during the Michigan Rail Summit at the Lansing Center.

Top federal and state transportation officials, elected officials and experts also will speak.

Snyder says improving passenger and freight rail service "paves the way" for growth in agriculture and manufacturing, enhances property values and stimulates local economies.

He says Michigan is well positioned to become a major transportation hub linking the economies of Canada other Midwestern states "so that the entire region benefits." Nearly 800,000 passengers rode Amtrak trains in Michigan during the last fiscal year, a record.

Transportation
6:37 am
Mon October 31, 2011

Snyder, federal officials to address rail summit

Michigan Municipal League Flickr

Governor Rick Snyder and federal transportation officials will speak today at a conference in Lansing on improving rail service in Michigan.

Michigan has 540 miles of publicly owned rail.

The governor has called for improving and expanding that system to move people and cargo more quickly and efficiently. He said he will seek more federal dollars and wants part of vehicle registration fees to be used for improving mass transit. 

“He believes very strongly that infrastructure is very important both to Michigan’s economy and to the future and that rail is very important to that mix, both passenger and freight," said Sara Wurfel, the governor's press secretary.

The state recently won a federal grant to purchase and upgrade 140 miles of track to be part of accelerated rail service between Detroit and Chicago. The governor’s plans for the state include making Michigan a central point in a regional business corridor that runs from Chicago to Toronto.

Flint
1:01 am
Mon October 31, 2011

Review of Flint's financial health due today

Downtown Flint, Michigan
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Today is the deadline Governor Snyder set to complete a review of the city of Flint’s finances.   

When he appointed the financial review panel in September, Governor Snyder said he wanted to hear back from them by the end of October. However, what the governor will hear is unclear. 

As of Friday, a governor’s office spokeswoman said the review team was still analyzing its data. And Flint Mayor Dayne Walling said on Friday he had not heard from the panel since earlier this month.  

The city of Flint is expected to end the current fiscal year more than 10 million dollars in debt. Flint leaders have cut the city’s budget by about a third in recent years, trying to balance rising costs and shrinking tax revenues. 

The financial review panel could recommend a variety of options to the governor. They include giving Flint’s elected leaders more power to deal with budget decisions or handing over power to a state appointed emergency manager. 

Flint city officials have said they hope to avoid a state takeover similar to the one in 2002.

Pages