By Robb Westaby
Courtesy MCT Campus
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder had a relentlessly positive message for a sold-out lunch crowd at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in downtown Grand Rapids Monday.
Speaking to what could safely be described as a friendly crowd at the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Snyder said the state’s residents, businesspeople, lawmakers and government officials need to do three things: be positive, be foward thinking, and lose the “win-lose attitude.”
The governor, speaking on his 101st day as the state’s chief executive, said the period had been full of “tough decisions.” People first look at change by thinking about how it will affect them personally, but he said “this is about we as Michiganders.”
Snyder varied little from the messages he has worked on since taking office: the state has a broken tax system, the state and local governments must adopt “best practices,” and the driving principle behind state government must be to “create more and better jobs.”
On that subject, the governor pointed out that Michigan needs its existing manufacturing base, but it must diversify its manufacturing. There’s one job out there, he said, that you can get in 20 minutes anywhere in the state: welder. And that Japanese representatives told him they wanted more tool and die operations in the state to work with. “And if you think tool and die is not high tech,” he said, you don’t know anything.
Snyder continued to attack the Michigan Business Tax as “a disaster” and again promoted his tax plans as “simple, fair, and efficient.” Of his proposal to tax retirement income like pensions, Snyder said it’s only fair to tax people “who haven’t been paying anything to contribute.” He said 13 percent of Michigan’s population are seniors, and within a few years that will be 20 percent. If nothing is done, the tax burden is shifted to young people, just the population everyone wants to keep in the state, he said.
Though he had a lot of criticism for the way the state has been run for not just the past few years but for “problems that have been around for decades,” Governor Snyder pointedly praised Lansing lawmakers, local officials like Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell, and even members of organized labor in their various responses to his proposals.
“I believe the vast majority are behind me,” he said. “It’s time to step up.”