Rick Snyder

Researchers are going to find out how well rubberized asphalt will resist potholes.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers will roll out a deal this afternoon on a spending package to fix Michigan’s pothole-filled roads.

The supplement funding bill is expected to include $200 million for local road agencies. Brutal winter weather has drained county and city road budgets.

State House Speaker Jase Bolger declined to give specifics about the compromise road bill this morning, except to say it will address the state’s immediate road problems.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - The owner of the Ambassador Bridge is asking a judge to stop the U.S. Coast Guard from giving a permit for a new bridge connecting Michigan and Ontario.

Lawyers for the bridge company say it has an exclusive right to provide a bridge between the U.S. and Canada. It wants to build its own second span. The Detroit Free Press says a federal judge in Washington could hold a hearing early in April.

We are one week, halfway through, the trial in federal court in Detroit centering on the challenge to Michigan’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. The arguments are supposed to go on for another week, and then we’ll wait for the judge’s decision. But the case’s mere existence, the fact that it’s occurring, is having an effect on the political landscape in Michigan.

And, it should be noted that these hearings are not taking place within a vacuum. Just this week we saw two more gay marriage rulings. Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage was struck down and Kentucky was ordered to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

There is also another federal case underway here in Michigan that is challenging the state’s refusal to allow live-in partner benefits for public employees. It’s the mechanism that was created to allow same-sex couples to use their benefits to cover partners and children who would otherwise be denied coverage under Michigan’s marriage amendment, approved by voters in a statewide election 10 years ago.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

When Governor Snyder pushed through a repeal of the the personal property tax — aka the PPT — in late 2012, it was seen as a good step towards encouraging businesses to set up and expand in Michigan.

But local governments took it right on the chin. As the PPT phased out, many were in line to lose a significant source of revenue.

But there's good news for municipal officials worried about a great big hole in their budgets.

A package of bills has been introduced in the State Senate that would plug that hole, without having to revert to anything like the PPT, which Governor Snyder called "the second-dumbest tax" in Michigan.

And this package seems to have just about everyone on board, including both Democratic and Republican lawmakers.

Here to tell us more is Kathleen Gray from the Detroit Free Press, and MLive’s Jonathan Oosting.

Listen to the full interview above. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING – Michigan lawmakers this week will propose a deal to guarantee that local governments lose little to no revenue from a planned phase-out of taxes on industrial machinery and small businesses' equipment.

The business tax cuts were enacted by Gov. Rick Snyder and legislators at the end of 2012. But they will be halted if a statewide vote fails in August.

An agreement reached among Snyder's administration, business interests and local officials would make sure municipalities opposing a loss in revenue are mostly kept whole.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new round of harsh winter weather is on the way. Snow, rain, and freezing rain are all part of the forecast for the Lower Peninsula, and the Upper Peninsula could be in for a blizzard.

Dealing with this year’s record and near-record cold and snow is already busting budgets as overtime, equipment, and supply costs are going higher than planned.

“This is a record winter in terms of cold, snow and we still have more to come,” said Gov. Rick Snyder.  

sierrafoothillsreport.com

Last month, in the midst of the polar vortex, Gov. Rick Snyder declared an energy emergency in the state as propane supplies dropped.

The shortage continues as Michiganders who rely on propane  for their heat have to worry about getting propane – and when they do, dealing with major price increases.

What's behind the shortage? And what does it mean for the 9 to 10 percent of Michigan homes that use propane for heat?

Listen to the full interview above. 

user echsunderscore / Flickr

The State Board of Education is recommending Michigan public school districts add additional days, not additional hours, to the school year to make up for this year’s snow days.

Last year, Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill allowing districts exceeding the state's snow day limit to add hours to class time instead of extra days.

But the law only applied for the 2012-2013 school year.

Now legislators in Lansing are trying to extend that option indefinitely with House Bill 5285.

State Rep. Phil Potvin, R-Cadillac, a sponsor of the bill, says districts who choose to make up for lost instruction time will have to add a minimum of 30 minutes to the school day.

Back during the Great Depression, some radicals were strongly against helping starving people at all. They believed that when only their condition was so bad and so hopeless and they couldn’t stand it anymore, they would finally revolt and bring about a new society.

That never happened, of course, in part because the New Deal kept people alive and gave them hope in the future. For a long time, I thought the idea that you could get people to do the right thing only by making them suffer terribly was heartless.

Toyota UK / Flickr

Michigan imports a lot of things from Germany, from craft beer to high-tech appliances.

Now, the state's trying to import Germany's highly successful apprentice system.

The hope is that employer-paid apprenticeships could address two problems: high-skilled jobs that go unfilled – and four-year college degrees that are becoming unaffordable.

One such program is already underway, teaching students how to manage automated assembly lines.

UC Davis College of Engineering / Flickr


In the United States, high school students are often told they need a four-year college degree to get a good job. That can mean racking up a lot of debt.

But in Germany, students can choose a paid apprenticeship. Now, Michigan officials hope to import the system here.

The apprentice system in Germany is extensive. You can become a land surveyor, a bank clerk, a robotics technician... so it's not hard to find someone who's done it.

When Sophie Stepke was 16, she was a typical teen. She had no idea what she wanted to do for a living.

She could have postponed a decision by staying in high school. Instead,

I went for an apprenticeship as a professional land surveyor. So for three years, I worked with an employer, I went to school, and I basically became a professional land surveyor. So I was staying out there building streets and building houses and all that kind of stuff.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Local governments bore steep cuts in state revenue-sharing payments in the 2000s as sales tax collections lagged and lawmakers siphoned off money to deal with budget deficits.

Now as the economy recovers and the budget stabilizes, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is proposing a 15 percent increase in the next budget.

He once cut statutory shared revenue to cities and townships by a third.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Panda bears at the Detroit Zoo?

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder tells business leaders that he'd like to see it happen, although he acknowledged Friday that the bears are expensive and hard to obtain. He's been interested since traveling to China on trade missions.

The Detroit News says Snyder repeated many points from his State of the State address during an appearance at the Detroit Regional Chamber. He also repeated his criticism of the federal government for its failure so far to agree to a U.S. Customs plaza at a new bridge linking Detroit and Canada.

Governor says plans to build a new bridge connecting Detroit and Canada have hit a snag—and he’s getting frustrated with the federal government.

The Governor spoke to the Detroit Regional Chamber while President Obama signed the new farm bill in Lansing Friday.

In 2012, Governor Snyder went around the state legislature and signed an agreement with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to build the New International Trade Crossing between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

This week, Governor Rick Snyder made good on his promise to boost preschool spending.

Today he got a chance to talk to some parents, teachers and school administrators in Grand Rapids about the proposal.

About a dozen four-year-olds sat in a circle around Gov. Snyder. He read them "Snowmen at Work," a children’s tale about what snowmen do for a living.

“Are they in school just like you?” Snyder asked the group. 

"Yeah!” they replied in unison.

“You have fun at school?"

"Yeah!”

After years of debate, Congress has sent the almost $1 trillion farm bill to President Obama, and, as usual, opposition to the legislation was a left-right affair. On today's show: Congressman Dan Kildee of Flint joins us to talk about why he voted in favor.

Then, Michigan Radio’s political commentator Jack Lessenberry explained why fixing Michigan’s voting system may be harder than you think.

And, medical students are reaching out to provide health care to uninsured people. We spoke with one of these students about free student-run medical clinics.

And, a new mobile and Web app is providing food for hungry children in Grand Rapids.

Also, we spoke to an economist from the University of Michigan about the success of Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty.

And, the owner of Stonehedge Fiber Mill in East Jordan, Michigan, joined us today to tell us about how she was approached to provide yarn for the Ralph Lauren Olympic closing ceremonies sweaters. 

First on the show, it's Thursday, which means it's time for our weekly check-in with Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes.

He's been going through Gov. Snyder's proposed budget for the new fiscal year and has decided the governor's got something going for him: what President George Herbert Walker Bush called "The Big Mo."

Daniel Howes joined us today to discuss the issue.

Snyder endorsed the report from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget indicating a notable decrease in unemployment in Michigan over the past month.
gophouse.com

It's Thursday, which means it's time for our weekly check-in with Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes.

He's been going through Gov. Snyder's proposed budget for the new fiscal year and has decided the governor's got something going for him: what President George Herbert Walker Bush called "The Big Mo."

Daniel Howes joined us today to discuss the issue.

Listen to the full interview above.

Here’s some pretty safe advice: If you go to a party and see someone who looks interesting, try not to say,

"Have you studied the details of Gov. Snyder’s latest state budget proposal?"

Unless you are with a bunch of politicians in Lansing, it's a pretty sure bet that you’ll end up talking to the potato chips.

Gov. Snyder’s budget is interesting, however, in a number of ways. There are two important things to remember, however. First, this is clearly the budget of a politician running for reelection.

Rick Pluta / MPRN

Governor Rick Snyder’s budget proposal calls for more money for schools, universities, and local governments. The governor presented his budget proposal Wednesday before a joint hearing of the state House and Senate appropriations committees. He says the plan is a frugal budget, but it makes badly needed investments.

“The investments are working that we’ve made over the past few years,” said Snyder. “They’ve been strong investments, good investments, but let’s finish the job we’ve started.” 

The governor also called for an election year tax break.

A homestead property tax credit – that could be claimed against last year’s taxes – would target more than a million low- and middle-income families. The governor says it would send help to taxpayers that need it the most. 

He also asked for more money for roads, healthcare, early childhood education, and law enforcement – as well as a large deposit in the state’s “rainy day” savings.

The budget proposal was met with mixed reactions from school groups, local governments, and Democrats.

Many public school officials in Michigan say the 3% funding boost is helpful. But they say it’s not nearly enough to offset years of inadequate funding from the state. And they it’s not clear how much of that money will have to go to things like teacher retirement costs.

As Detroit continues the process of bankruptcy, there's lots of talk about turning over a new leaf in the city, a rejuvenation. But headlines have recently turned to the legal troubles of City Councilman George Cushingberry. On today's show: Can Detroit change its image if there are still leaders courting controversy?

 Then, we spoke to an artist who's trying to change the way we think about abortion and issues of contraception through art. And, we want everything modern medicine can offer, but as taxpayers we want health care costs controlled. Is there a way we achieve both goals?  First on the show, as Gov. Snyder prepares to reveal his 2014-15 budget tomorrow morning, there will be many eyes fixed on how much he proposes to put into K-12 education.
 

In the “Comeback Kid” Snyder campaign ad unveiled during the Super Bowl, amidst the talk of jobs was the claim “education funding’s up”. Yet many of his critics claim the governor cut $1 billion from K-12 education.

So what’s the truth about education funding? And what should we expect to see for schools in the about-to-be released budget?

Detroit Free Press Lansing reporter Paul Egan joined us today.

YouTube

Governor Snyder is officially launching his re-election bid today. That’s after a 60-second ad that ran throughout much of the state last night during the Super Bowl. 

In the ad, the Governor is touted as the “Comeback Kid” and there's a heavy focus on his economic policies.

Gov. Snyder joined us today on Stateside.

*Listen to the interview above.

User: mattileo/flickr

Rick Pluta joined us to talk about the politics behind Gov. Snyder’s re-election bid, about Snyder’s Super Bowl ad, and about Snyder’s likely Democratic opponent Mark Schauer.

Rick Pluta is the Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network and my co-host of It’s Just Politics.

Governor Rick Snyder has signed an executive order creating a Michigan Office for New Americans. The governor has made attracting immigrants a priority as part of his economic plans. The governor named Grand Rapids entrepreneur Bing Goei to lead the office.

“It’s not going to be a large department,” said Goei, “but it’s really to be that clearinghouse, that focal point, because, again, we have activities probably in every department of state government involved with immigrants. This is to have a clearinghouse, a center for that.” 

The governor says he will do what he can to make Michigan more immigrant friendly, while he hopes Washington can come up with a better national immigration policy.

“I think there’s a lot of evidence to say, particularly for skilled immigrants, they’re net job generators,” said Snyder. “They add jobs, they create economic wealth and well-being throughout the supply chain.” 

Scott Beale / Flickr

The "Designated Survivor" is the person from the President’s Cabinet who sits out the big, official political gatherings – like the State of the Union speech, or a Presidential Inauguration.

That survivor would be there if something unthinkable happens. The government would still go on. Someone would be in charge.

So that got us thinking about Michigan: What does Michigan do if a catastrophe wipes out the top echelons of state government?

Does Michigan have a plan?

Well, yes! It’s the “Emergency Interim Executive Succession Act.” Public Act 202 of 1959 reads:

“If the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, the elected Secretary of State, the elected Attorney General, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and Speaker of the House of representatives are not able or are unavailable to exercise the powers and discharge the duties of the governor because of a disaster, the available emergency interim successor highest in order of succession shall exercise the powers and discharge the duties of the office of governor.”

In the case of the unthinkable – whether it’s zombies, or an attack on the state - if the entire line of succession is wiped out or incapacitated, there is still a plan for someone to be in charge.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero used his State of the City speech Thursday to make a pitch for state funding to repair local roads.

Mayor Virg Bernero says the city of Lansing plans to spend three million dollars this year to repair pot hole covered roads in the capitol city. 

But the mayor says the city would have to spend five times that much each year for a decade to fix all of Lansing’s road problems.

In his speech, Bernero called on state lawmakers to use part of the state’s billion dollar budget surplus to help repair local roads across Michigan.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder will formally launch his reelection bid Sunday with a Super Bowl TV ad, followed by a six-stop announcement tour on Monday and Tuesday of next week.

The announcement is no surprise.

The Republican governor has made clear for quite some time his intentions to seek a second four-year term.

The governor could make some mention of his plans Friday afternoon when he addresses the Michigan Press Association.

His likely Democratic opponent on the November ballot is former congressman Mark Schauer.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder is taking on "misinformation" over his record of funding public schools before putting forward his next budget.

Since the Republican governor took office, he says, state aid to K-12 districts is up an average of $660 per student. But House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel says the figure is "simply untrue."

Until a few years ago, the primary marker of school funding was Michigan's per-pupil grant. Now Michigan is picking up some of the ballooning retirement costs instead of including the money in districts' traditional aid.


* "This is not a bailout"

Gov. Rick Snyder used the phrase “this is not a bailout” five times in the 26 minutes he used to announce the first details of a “grand bargain” to settle the Detroit bankruptcy and the fight over pension benefits.

The governor’s plan would commit as much as $350 million over 20 years to help dig Detroit out of bankruptcy and keep the assets of the Detroit Institute of Arts off the auction block.

The money would most likely come from what Michigan is getting from the national tobacco settlement, that 15-year-old cash cow that’s been tapped for college scholarships, economic development, Medicaid – the list goes on. And now it might be part of the Detroit bailout (but don’t call it a “bailout").

So, there’s this plan and a revenue stream to go along with it. Now, the governor just has to sell it to the Legislature.The Michigan Constitution requires every dollar that goes to the state to go through the Legislature’s appropriations process.

And we wouldn’t exactly call this a done deal or an easy sell. After all, this is an election year. And Republicans, especially those west of Lansing and north of Clare, have little reason to go along with a political hot potato like aid for Detroit. At least two Senate Republicans, probably more, are looking at primaries. Plenty of House Republicans are also looking over their shoulders for a Tea Party primary challenge. Politically speaking, there are probably more reasons not to do this than to do this.

Thirteen years ago, a friend who runs a political PR firm urged me to meet a man he saw as a visionary politician who he was going to be elected mayor and transform Detroit.

His name was Kwame Kilpatrick. We all know how that turned out, but nobody did then. What was the same then and now, however, was Detroit’s need for jobs and money.

Over the years, I had learned one thing: If you want to jump-start an economy, what you need are immigrants. Driven, motivated, immigrants who want a better life.

user aMichiganMom / Flickr

Big news out of Lansing yesterday: Gov. Rick Snyder has proposed committing up to $350 million of state money to guarantee city of Detroit pension benefits and to keep Detroit Institute of Arts art off the auction block.

Big news, but not altogether surprising.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes has been writing about this possible cash infusion for weeks now. He joined us today to discuss the issue.

Listen to the full interview above.

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