Rick Snyder

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Senate Bill 1 has been introduced, and you can read it, in its entirety - here you go:

The Michigan business tax act, 2007 PA 36, MCL208.1101 to 208.1601, is repealed.

The bill was introduced by Senator Dave Hildenbrand and comes in advance of Governor Rick Snyder's State of the State address tonight.

Replacing the Michigan Business Tax was one of candidate Snyder's main promises to voters.

Laura Weber of the Michigan Public Radio Network filed a report on Senate Bill 1:

Senator Dave Hildenbrand...says his bill is more aggressive than a similar bill introduced by House Republicans, which only repeals part of the business tax:

"Well we wanted to send a strong message that we want to create a better business climate in this state so our job providers can provide jobs. It’s pretty clear, I think to all of us, that the Michigan Business Tax is an obstacle for employers to good create jobs, expand, for the ability for us to attract job providers to Michigan. So we’ve declared war on the Michigan Business Tax."

Governor Rick Snyder wants to replace the Michigan Business Tax with a flat tax on large businesses. Snyder is expected to talk more about his plans for economic development during his State of the State address tonight.

There’s a lot of speculation today as to what Governor Snyder will say when he makes his first State of the State speech tonight.

Well, we’ll find out soon enough. However, I’m also interested in what the Democrats are going to say in response. Now, there are a lot of people who think whatever they say won’t matter much.

After all, the Dems were pounded into the ground in the last election. They lost a record twenty seats in the House, where the Republicans have a sixty-three to forty-seven seat edge.

And they are in a lot worse shape in the state senate, where they now hold only a dozen seats out of thirty-eight. That’s the weakest position they’ve been in since 1954.

Nevertheless, what goes around does tend to come around. Nobody thinks Governor Snyder‘s honeymoon with the voters will last forever. Nor is it likely that all of his fellow Republicans in the legislature are always going to support what he wants to do.

These are also not normal times. Michigan has lost nearly a million jobs in the last decade, and has the highest unemployment rate of any major state in the nation. Additionally, it’s clear that our method of funding state government is broken.

Corvair Owner / Flickr

Updated at 1 pm: 

Governor Snyder says the economy will be the focus of his first State of the State speech tonight.

That should come as no surprise, considering Michigan has a massive budget deficit and one of the nation’s highest unemployment rates.

Snyder says he’ll talk about economic development, and about a state partnership with the University of Michigan, as reported in this story on annarbor.com. He says he also plans to present a “report card” on some key issues: 

We’re going to have probably 21 different measures in five different areas. Things about the economy, about the health of our people in the state, public safety issues, a number of different areas. Education.

Snyder says the report card, or “dashboard” as he calls it, will be revisited in each of his State of the State addresses to see whether laws and policies are improving things. A spokeswoman for the governor says it will be made available on a Web site that's slated to go live later today.

8:08 a.m.:

Governor Rick Snyder will deliver his first State of the State address tonight at 7 p.m.. He'll deliver the speech to a joint session of the Michigan legislature in the state's Capitol building in Lansing. Though details of the speech have not been released, we do know the speech is expected to last about 40 minutes and is likely to focus on ways to improve and reinvent the state's economy.

Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

A new poll shows 59 percent of likely Michigan voters hold a favorable opinion of Governor Rick Snyder. The poll was released on the eve of Snyder's first State of the State address.

Nine percent of likely voters say they have an unfavorable opinion of the new governor. 

When asked, 41 percent of respondents said they think Michigan is not headed in the right direction, 39 percent said it is.

The results of the poll have a margin of sampling area of four percentage points.

Governor Rick Snyder met with the state’s largest teachers union today to talk about funding and standards for the state's public school system.

Laura Weber, of the Michigan Public Radio Network, reports the Michigan Education Association (MEA) teachers union presented Snyder with a plan that includes expanding the sales tax to services to raise more money for schools.

Weber reports that Governor Snyder has said he wants to reform Michigan’s tax structure, but says now is not the time to expand the sales tax.

Even so, Iris Salters, the director of the MEA teachers union, said she's glad the new Governor was willing to meet with them:

"We’re encouraged by the governor’s willingness to garner a lot of input from people who not only work within the education system, but those who are consumers of the education system. And that’s got to be good."

Another reform being considered by the Michigan legislature is to make Michigan a "Right-To-Work" state, something the MEA opposes. Doug Pratt, with the MEA, told MPRN's Laura Weber that he is concerned about the push to make Michigan a "Right-To-Work" state:

"It is a false premise that has proven not to work in other places, it is wrong for this state. And we are heartened by the governor’s comments as well as comments from others in the business community that now is not the time to take such an action."

flickr - user harry_nl

The Michigan Manufacturers Association (MMA) says Michigan is getting it's "butt kicked" when it comes to taxes.

In the Detroit Free Press, the MMA's vice president for government affairs, Mike Johnston, was quoted when talking about personal property taxes on equipment.

From the article:

Tomorrow Governor Rick Snyder will deliver his first state of the state speech to a joint session of the legislature and a statewide television audience. I’ve seen a lot of these speeches, and believe this may be the most eagerly anticipated one ever.

Michigan is stuck in twin enormous economic crises, one affecting state government, which has a perennial massive deficit, and the other affecting hundreds of thousands without jobs.

Governor Snyder is brand new, and we are still getting to know him. We want to have a better sense of who he is, and, especially,  how he plans to get us out of the mess we’re in.

But all this got me wondering: Who was the first governor ever to give a state-of-the state speech?  The first I remember was Governor Milliken, but how far back did the tradition go before him?

I knew that in the old days, governors just sent an annual written message to the legislature. U.S. Presidents used to do the same, until Woodrow Wilson started the tradition of showing up at the capitol and delivering a speech in person.

Since then, almost every president has done so. But who was the first governor to do so? I asked Bill Ballenger, the publisher of Inside Michigan Politics. “Wow,” he said. “I don’t know.”

Corvair Owner / Flickr

What's the "State of the State"?

We'll all find out what the new governor thinks tomorrow night, but not before.

The Associated Press reports:

Gov. Rick Snyder will deliver his first State of the State address Wednesday, but he won't be putting out a written copy of the speech. His spokesman says the new Republican governor doesn't tend to work off a prepared text, so there's no written copy to release. The governor's office also doesn't expect to provide a transcript of the 7 p.m. speech immediately after Snyder delivers it at the Capitol. The talk will focus on economic development and job creation and is expected to be about 40 minutes long. It will be broadcast live statewide. Former Govs. Jennifer Granholm and John Engler usually released embargoed copies of their remarks before their State of the State speeches. Their speeches also were posted online after they spoke.

You can hear a live-broadcast of tomorrow night's "State of the State" on Michigan Radio starting at 7 p.m.

Pay close attention!

Corvair Owner / Flickr

Governor Rick Snyder will deliver his first State of the State address to a joint session of the state Legislature on Wednesday evening. Laura Weber is in Lansing and sent this report:

Governor Snyder is expected to focus his speech on Michigan’s economic future. But the governor is not expected to give specific plans for the state budget until next month. Democratic House Minority Leader Richard Hammel says he has not heard enough details yet from Snyder.

I mean, there’s been a whole lot of talk about moving Michigan forward, and not looking in the rearview mirror and reinventing Michigan, and I think that’s wonderful. We all feel that way. But we’re waiting for details before we can really react.

Snyder has said all areas of state government will be considered for further budget cuts to close a nearly $2 billion dollar estimated deficit.

Governor's office

Over the last decade, factories have closed.  People have lost their jobs. Some have had their hours cut.  Some have had their wages cut.  It’s been hard for many Michigan families. 

With so many people hurting, it’s easy to look around and get a little resentful when people who work for the government still have their jobs. 

More than 53,000 state workers --from the people who sweep the floors in the capitol to lawyers in the Attorney General’s office to engineers in the Department of Transportation-- still seem to be doing okay.

Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

Governor Rick Snyder met yesterday with the presidents of the state's universities.  They told the governor they are ready to help improve Michigan's economy. The Associated Press reports:

...Snyder says universities likely will have to sacrifice in the short run, but he wants to invest more in higher education when times get better. Michigan Technological University President Glen Mroz said in a statement that the meeting set a positive tone for the relationship between universities and the new Snyder administration.

Reports say Snyder did not give any specific details on what he plans to do for universities in the state's next budget. Michigan faces a projected $1.8 billion dollar budget deficit for the fiscal year that begins October 1st.

Governor Rick Snyder visited the Detroit auto show yesterday, something governors traditionally do. They greet the CEOs, make nice comments about the new models, and disappear.

I can’t recall a single thing any politician has said at the auto show that was worth remembering.  But this year is a little different. Two years ago, it was highly uncertain whether there would be either an domestic auto industry or an auto show in 2011.

What’s more, almost nobody in the industry or the state had ever heard of Rick Snyder, and nobody imagined he’d be governor.

Well, the auto industry is a good bit healthier today, and the state is getting used to a governor who doesn’t like to wear a tie, and doesn’t mind being called a nerd. Like other governors before him, Snyder didn’t say anything especially stirring at the auto show. But he did a few things worth noting. He didn’t just visit what we might now call the not-so-big three, Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. He stopped by Kia and Hyundai and Toyota too.

Prima Civitas Foundation / Flickr

The Michigan Department of Agriculture is, now, officially the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. Governor Rick Snyder announced in November that he would make the change.  He signed an order, yesterday, making it official.

The Associated Press reports, "the governor says the new name is 'a clear signal' his administration plans to help the agriculture industry grow so rural areas gain new and better jobs."

Governor Snyder appointed Keith Creagh to head the Department. Creagh used to be the Department's deputy director.

In a statement released yesterday, Creagh said:

Agriculture today is a high tech industry that relies on trained professionals with knowledge of the newest methods from biology and chemistry to packing and shipping. Expanding educational opportunities will give Michigan's agricultural producers a competitive edge and ensure jobs are available for recent graduates who want to stay in their home communities.

Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

Governor Rick Snyder visited the North American International Auto Show in Detroit yesterday.  He sat in a Chevy Volt, stopped by the Ford and Prius pavilions, and visited with Fiat-Chryser CEO Sergio Marccione. Rick Pluta was at the show and filed this report:

Governor Snyder cheered the rebound in the auto industry from where it was at this time last year. Snyder says he does not want to play favorites when it comes to economic development -- that Michigan should make all entrepreneurs feel equally welcome. But the governor also says he recognizes how big the car business still looms in the state’s economy. Snyder said:

The role of manufacturing and the auto industry in Michigan’s future is critical. I don’t walk away from it all. Actually, I embrace it. That is part of our heritage. That is something we have world-class people in.

The governor says he will call for lower taxes and less regulation and will reveal more details of his economic plan next week when he delivers his first State of the State address

The show opened for media previews on Monday and opens to the public on Saturday.

Photo courtesy of www.stabenow.senate.gov

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow visited the North American International Auto Show yesterday in Detroit. The Associated Press reports the Democrat said, "she's excited that the Chevrolet Volt was named Car of the Year," at the show.  The Car of the Year award was announced yesterday morning.  The Ford Explorer won the Truck of the Year award.

Former House Speaker and California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi was scheduled to attend the show yesterday but canceled the trip after Saturday's shooting in Arizona.

Governor Rick Snyder plans to visit the show with his Lt. Gov., Brian Calley, later today.

Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

Governor Rick Snyder will visit the North American International Auto Show in Detroit today. Lt. Gov. Brian Calley will also attend.

The two will tour the auto show and meet with President and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Authority Michael Finney.

Media previews of the show began yesterday.  The show opens to the public on Saturday and runs through January 23rd.

Search Net Media / Flickr

Governor Rick Snyder has released a statement regarding the shooting of U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords on Saturday in Tucson, Arizona.  Six were killed in the attack and 13 others were wounded.  Governor Snyder said:

I would like to offer my support and prayers for Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the other victims of the horrific shooting in Arizona and their families.

The senseless, despicable act of violence that our nation witnessed over the weekend tears at the very fabric of our democracy.  But, as we all know, Americans rally together in the face of tragedy and adversity.  Our spirit will not be broken.  We will emerge from this horrible incident stronger and more committed than ever to move our nation forward.  As the president requested, Michigan will demonstrate its respect for the victims by flying all U.S. flags at half-staff through Friday.

I will call Arizona Governor Jan Brewer later today to share these sentiments and to let her know that the people of Michigan are praying for the rapid recovery of Congresswoman Giffords and the other victims.

I know the hearts of every Michigander are with the Congresswoman, the victims, their families and the people of Arizona.”

Members of Michigan's congressional delegation have released statements decrying the shooting.

Earlier this morning, Governor Rick Snyder announced that he was appointing Appeals Court Judge Brian Zahra to the Michigan Supreme Court. 

Judge Zahra will be taking over the place of state Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan.  Corrigan will leave the court on Friday to begin a new job as the head of the state Department of Human Services.  Governor Snyder named her the Director of DHS last week.

So, just who is Judge Brian Zahra?  Here are 5 things we know:

  1. He has a Bachelor of General Studies degree from Wayne State University. He also has a J.D. from the University of Detroit School of Law.
  2. He has served on the Michigan Court of Appeals since 1999.
  3. In 2006 he received Jurist of the Year from the Police Officers’ Association of Michigan.
  4. He is a member of the State Bar of Michigan.
  5. He is married and has two children.

Update 10:19 a.m.:

Michigan Radio has learned that Judge Zahra's appointment will take effect on Friday, January 14th at noon.  In a release sent out this morning, Governor Snyder said Zahra's, "legal reasoning abilities and depth of understanding of Michigan law are virtually unmatched." Snyder also noted:

Judge Zahra’s sixteen years of judicial experience and his razor sharp intelligence will make him an outstanding addition to the court. His integrity and consistent legal philosophy that judges are to interpret laws, not make them, gives me confidence that he will respect our system of checks and balances while upholding the rule of law.”

9:22 a.m.:

Governor Rick Snyder has named Appeals Court Judge Brian Zahra to the Michigan Supreme Court, Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta reports. Zahra was appointed to the appeals court in 1999 by former Republican Governor John Engler. He was then elected to the court in 2000 and 2006.

Judge Zahra will be taking over the place of state Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan.  Corrigan will leave the court on Friday to begin a new job as the head of the state Department of Human Services.  Governor Snyder named her the Director of DHS last week.

Like Corrigan, Zahra is a Republican.  That means the state Supreme Court will keep its 4-3 GOP majority.

Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

Governor Rick Snyder will name a new state Supreme Court Justice today at a morning news conference.

Snyder will be appointing a replacement for current Justice Maura Corrigan.  Snyder named Corrigan to head the state Department of Human Services last week. Corrigan will step down from the court on Friday to begin her new job.

There's been no word yet on who will replace her, but the Associated Press reports:

Appeals Court Judge Jane Markey of Grand Rapids wants Snyder to name her to the court because she'd bring a west Michigan perspective. The 59-year-old sent out an unusual release late Saturday asking for the appointment and noting that the court hasn't had a justice from Grand Rapids since 1946. Appeals Court Judge Brian Zahra of Northville may be higher on Snyder's list. He turned 51 Sunday and ran unsuccessfully for the high court in 2004.

Holland BPW

The state is challenging a lower court’s ruling that would’ve allowed Holland to expand a coal-fired power plant. But  its unclear whether or not state officials will follow through on the legal battle.

Corvair Owner / Flickr

Governor Rick Snyder has been appointing directors for various state departments over the past few weeks.  The announcement of Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan to the state Department of Human Services came just yesterday.

The Associated Press has put together a look at who is in charge at various state departments:

Photo courtesy of the Snyder administration

Governor Rick Snyder says he'll name a new justice to the state Supreme Court by January 14th.  Whomever he picks will replace state Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan.  Snyder announced yesterday that he is appointing Justice Corrigan to head the state Department of Human Services.

Corrigan is one of four Republican justices on the seven-member state Supreme Court.  She has served on the court since 1999.

Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta sent this report detailing the announcement of Corrigan's new job:

Corrigan says serving on the court is a “dream job.” But she says she could not resist the chance to work on improving services for children and others in need.

We must leave no one behind. That includes the most-vulnerable among us – children who are abused and neglected, the poor, the disaffected.

One of Corrigan’s first jobs will be to bring Michigan into compliance with a court order that settles a lawsuit against the state’s foster care system.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The start of the new year often brings in a lot of talk of good will. For those in politics, it's talk of bipartisanship.

In Michigan, that spirit is likely to dissolve quickly as the state faces a $1.8 billion budget deficit in the next fiscal year (the state's next fiscal year will start October 1st, 2011).

Peter Luke on MLive.com highlights the discussion beginning to take shape among the leaders in the state legislature.

Republicans pretty much control everything in Lansing now, and the first item they say they plan to cut are salaries and benefits for state employees.

Jase Bolger, the new Speaker in the State House of Representatives, said state employee benefits are definitely on the table if the state is going to close the enormous budget deficit gap:

"There are significant dollars that need to be saved through our compensation models, not just salaries, but the entire compensation."

In his recent piece on the looming budget deficit, Michigan Radio's Lester Graham points out that slashing state employee salaries and benefits only gets them a small percentage of their overall $1.8 billion dollar goal.

Photo by Rebecca Williams

Governor Rick Snyder picked outgoing Republican state Senator Patty Birkholtz to lead the Office of the Great Lakes. As you might guess, the director of this office oversees all things Great Lakes. Birkholtz will advise the governor and make policy recommendations on everything from Asian carp to water use.

Birkholtz says protecting the Great Lakes will lead to a stronger economy.

“When we have a healthy Great Lakes system we have more jobs here in this state as well as regionally, and if we don’t have a healthy Great Lakes system it’s a detriment to not only the jobs situation but also businesses locating here."

Governor Rick Snyder will name Michigan Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan as head of the state Department of Human Services today. The appointment will open a vacancy on the state Supreme Court for the new governor to fill.

The Associated Press reports:

It's not immediately clear how quickly Snyder will replace Corrigan on the court. Corrigan was part of the court's new 4-3 conservative majority... The department has been under pressure in recent years as more Michigan residents hurt by the recession seek public assistance. The department is under a 2008 consent decree to improve the state's foster care system but received poor marks in the latest report.

The Detroit Free Press reports:

Corrigan reportedly is eager to lead the DHS because of her long involvement in child protection issues, such as foster care and abuse prevention, said those close to the decision.

Corrigan has served on Michigan's highest court since 1999.

Corvair Owner / Flickr

Governor Rick Snyder will give his first State of the State address on Wednesday, January 19th at 7 p.m.  He'll give the speech in front of a joint session of the state legislature in the House chamber of the Capitol building in Lansing . The Detroit Free Press reports:

Snyder is expected to lay out specific goals of his promise to "reinvent Michigan" with an economic and political culture that promotes entrepreneurial spirit with lower taxes and less regulation. Those are themes he struck Saturday in his inauguration speech, in which he called for an end to partisan bickering.

And, if you're an astrology-watcher, it might be interesting to note that there will be a full moon that evening.

Michigan Radio will air live coverage of the address.

Governor Rick Snyder
Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

Governor Rick Snyder issued the first executive order of his administration yesterday. The order splits up oversight of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment into two state departments: the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Environmental Quality.

The executive order takes effect March 13th. As The Associated Press reports:

Gov. John Engler separated the natural resources and environmental quality functions into different agencies in 1995, but Gov. Jennifer Granholm rejoined them in 2009 in a cost-saving move. Snyder now says the job would best be handled by two agencies.

Rodney Stokes will head the Department of Natural Resources and Dan Wyant will head the Department of Environment Quality.

In a statement released yesterday, the Governor said:

“Michigan is blessed with an abundance of natural resources and we need to be a leader and innovator in protecting these resources. Recreational fishing, hunting and boating activities alone contribute more than $3 billion annually to our economy.  Separating the DEQ and DNR means we can better address these key priorities.”

Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

Governor Rick Snyder started his first week on the job by meeting with his senior staff, and plotting out the first six months of his administration. Rick Pluta sent this report from Lansing:

Governor Snyder wants to re-organize government, reform business taxes, and have a two-year budget completed by July first.

Geralyn Lasher is the governor’s communications director. She says Snyder also plans to adopt a new economic development and jobs-creation strategy that focuses on businesses that are already in Michigan.

He talks about economic gardening and keeping Michigan businesses here, helping them grow and helping them be more successful and, then, also attracting people from other states.

Lasher also says the governor has decided he will draw a public salary, but it will be less than the $159,300  he’s allowed to collect. Snyder is a retired venture capitalist who spent $6 million of his own money on his campaign for governor.

Governor Rick Snyder
Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

There aren't too many jobs out there where you go to work on your first day unsure of how much money you'll make. But, apparently, that's the case with one pretty important job in the state: Governor of Michigan.

The Associated Press reports that Governor Rick Snyder still hasn't decided how much money he'll take as the state's Chief Executive.

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