Rick Snyder

This Week in Michigan Politics, I talk with Michigan Radio's political analyst Jack Lessenberry about the investigation into the Flint water crisis, Governor Rick Snyder's plan to overhaul Detroit schools, and proposed changes in how teachers are evaluated.


Governor Rick Snyder is facing a tough sell today as he tries to re-start the conversation on fixing Detroit’s schools. And, that’s just one of the political tough sells the Second Term Nerd is facing.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint officials are still working out the details of returning to Detroit water.

Last week, Gov. Snyder announced a $12 million plan to reconnect Flint to Detroit water.   The state is putting up half the money.  The rest is coming from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and the city. 

A year and a half ago, Flint switched its drinking water source from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to the Flint River.  That was meant to be temporary while the new Karegnondi Water Authority pipeline was under construction.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint is going back to Detroit water.   

The state, the city and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation together are kicking in $12 million to shut off the tap to the Flint River.

A year and a half ago, city leaders stood in Flint's water plant and raised plastic glasses to toast the city’s switch to the Flint River.

Eighteen months later, Governor Snyder has announced the end of the Flint River experiment.

Protesters in Flint.
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

In Flint, lead levels in some children's blood have spiked dramatically, and scientists believe a new drinking water source is to blame. They're pointing to lapses in oversight from state regulators, who they say should’ve seen the problem coming.

Flint’s water problems began about a year ago, not long after the city stopped drawing water from Detroit’s system. To save money, Flint began getting its water from the Flint River.

With the hand-wringing over what appears to be short-term, hasty-decision-making in Flint (the move by a state-appointed emergency manager to try and save money by breaking away from Detroit’s water system and to, instead, pull water from the the highly corrosive Flint River), the city’s water crisis has now become a political crisis as well.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State and local officials Friday unveiled a plan for fixing Flint’s water problems.

But one demand of many city residents is not on the list.

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality director Dan Wyant addressed what he sees as the critical problem in Flint. 

The Michigan presidential primary is underway. And by that we really mean that the ‘endorsements primary’ is underway.

You’ve got a friend

With 162 days until Michigan voters decide who they want to be their Republican and Democratic presidential candidates, the focus right now is really on the Republican side of things. 

A weekend of Republican partying on Mackinac Island wrapped up yesterday after 2,200 people with the time (and money) attended the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This week, Michigan lawmakers are expected to continue discussing ways to spend more money to fix state roads. It’s estimated the state has to come up with at least $1.2 billion annually to repair Michigan’s aging and crumbling roads and bridges.

In May, voters rejected a proposal to increase fuel and sales tax rates to pay for fixing the roads.

Most of the proposals on the table now include tapping existing state revenues. The general fund is used to fund most state government programs.    

Once again lawmakers are starting over as another road funding plan collapsed late last week in Lansing.

What really happened?

The latest effort to come up with more than a billion dollars for roads had pitted Republicans against Republicans. The GOP has a 63 to 46 advantage over Democrats in the state House, and a 27 to 11 margin in the state Senate. Those numbers led to the idea that GOP leaders could develop a Republican-only roads solution without having to deal with the Democrats.

Updated story 4:38 PM:

So, there’s definitely no deal on road funding.

The state House and Senate floor managers have let it be known there will be no attendance taken and no roll call votes this week. After that the Michigan Legislature is on a break until mid-August.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder says he hasn’t given up on getting a deal for more than a $1 billion in new road revenue through the Legislature. Lawmakers adjourned this week without voting on a roads package.

But, at an event in Detroit, the governor said he’s still confident a deal can come together in 2015.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.
Photo courtesy of Governor Snyder's office

Governor Rick Snyder has signed a bill that stops local governments from adopting their own ordinances that cover wages and working conditions.

The new law does not affect existing ordinances, but it does preempt nascent efforts to adopt local “living wage” and mandatory sick leave ordinances. In a written statement, Governor Snyder says it makes sense to ensure consistency in local ordinances that regulate jobs and employment.

The Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage has many people happy and relieved. None more so, politically speaking, than Republicans who’ve wanted to see the issue go away.

Moderate Republicans like Governor Rick Snyder have always detested getting wrapped up in the culture wars. 

There are rumors that powerhouse Oakland County Executive and outspoken Republican L. Brooks Patterson may not run again in 2016, leaving Republicans in a bind.

A certain fact in politics: it is never too soon to start thinking about elections; particularly if you want to win them.

2016, 2018, 2020…

Eric Parker / Flickr http://ow.ly/Nwyd0

Governor Rick Snyder tells a business conference on Mackinac Island that training and getting people interested in skilled trades is his top economic development priority.        

  

Thousands of employers – including some of the state’s largest – attend the annual Detroit Regional Chamber event. The state’s new Talent Investment Agency says many of those employers complain Michigan has a “skills gap” in its workforce.

This week, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual Mackinac Policy Conference gets underway on Mackinac Island. This is when Lansing, political Lansing at least, empties out of town and heads north to rub shoulders – and click cocktail glasses – with Michigan’s movers and shakers in businesses, finance and philanthropy.

michigan.gov

Gov. Rick Snyder outlined a public safety agenda on Monday that includes parole and sentencing reforms, job training for inmates, and more help finding a job once they’re released from prison.

Snyder says there are data-driven ways to reduce the state’s prison population without compromising public safety.

In Lansing, state Senate leaders say they’re scrubbing plans for a summer break in order to work toward a road funding solution. They say they heard John Q. Public loud and clear after the massive failure of Proposal One and that, this time, they’re going to get a roads-fix done.

Michigan Municipal League / Flickr

Responsibility for turning around Michigan’s worst schools now lies directly with Gov. Rick Snyder.

 His order taking direct control of school turnarounds – which was issued earlier this year – took effect Tuesday. Those duties previously belonged to the Michigan Department of Education (MDE), which is governed by the elected State Board of Education (SBE).

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

State House Republicans could introduce legislation to boost road funding as soon as this week.

House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant, says he’s interested in tapping restricted pools of money in the budget and economic development funds to raise more than $1 billion a year for roads. He told reporters last week he won’t put forward a plan that relies mostly on raising taxes.

Last week’s defeat of Proposal One means the billion dollar question of how to pay for Michigan’s roads remains unanswered.

Lawmakers were quick to say that they’re going to work throughout the summer to come up with a new plan. But, if they haven’t been able to find a solution yet, what makes them think they’ll be able to now?

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Voters said no Tuesday to Proposal 1 by a margin of almost four-to-one. But, as unhappy as people were with the ballot question, they’re still unhappy with the state of Michigan’s roads. 

Speculation continues that Governor Rick Snyder is eyeing a run for the White House.

Just last week, former Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman fanned the flames by telling reporters that he met with Snyder in California and that, “he’s running.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Supporters of a proposed state sales tax hike are taking their campaign to Michigan’s farmers.

Tuesday, Michigan voters will decide on a ballot proposal that will increase the state sales tax from 6% to 7%. Most of the money raised through the ballot question will go to fix Michigan’s roads. 

Governor Snyder met yesterday with agri-business leaders in Genesee County to make his pitch for the May 5th vote. 

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Governor Snyder rolled out his plan today to overhaul education in Detroit and get Detroit Public Schools out of the deep, deep hole it’s in now.

DPS is reportedly the worst-performing urban school district in the country, with years of falling enrollment and $2 billion in crippling debt.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s financial emergency is over, and the city is regaining a degree of local control.

Gov. Snyder issued the order today lifting the city’s “financial emergency” designation.  

There’s suddenly a new flurry of rumors that Governor Rick Snyder is inching towards making a run for President. There is some evidence that there’s something to this. The governor, or his supporters, are creating a new non-profit fund, “Making Government Accountable” to pay for his jaunts around the country.

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