Cynical Synapse

Sun, 02 Jan 2011

Synder Has One Tough Row to Hoe

Filed under: Budget, Business, Economy, Government, Governor, Michigan, Politics, Taxes — cynicalsynapse @ 8:19 pm

Rick Snyder being sworn in as governor

Michigan’s 48th Governor, Rick Snyder, is no H. Ross Perot. But he had a certain similar appeal during the campaign and enough Michiganders are fed up with business as usual that he won the election. I’m pleased he edged past charlatans like Mike Cox, Pete Hoekstra, and Mike Bouchard. But Snyder will need more than optimism from his inaugural address if he is to succeed.

We need to move from negative to positive. We need to stop looking in the rearview mirror and look toward the future. We need to stop being divisive and become inclusive.

Snyder’s campaign catch phrase was he’s “one tough nerd.” Well, he’s got one tough row to hoe if he’s going to implement positive change in Michigan; there is a lot that needs fixing.

Synder and his appointments

For a guy who wants to reinvent Michigan, I’m a little concerned he’s not making such a good start. Snyder’s first cabinet appointment was Andy Dillon as State Treasurer. This is a positive move how? Former Speaker of Michigan’s House Mr. Dillon missed more votes than any other state legislator! He presided over the Democratic House that failed to complete budget work and forced state government shutdowns in all but the last year of his tenure as speaker. To avoid a fourth shutdown, Dillon caved to Senate Republican budget proposals. There’s a man with moral fortitude and obvious budget experience for you—not! Snyder’s also surrounded himself with a bunch of former Gov. Engler hacks.

Beyond cabinet choices, Michigan has serious systemic issues that can’t just be wished or hoped away. To start, there is state government’s structural deficit, which actually precedes Gov. Granholm’s two terms in office. It remains to be seen if Michigan can live within the 2011 budget, some of it’s “revenue” is based on one-time fixes. As a result, Michigan’s 2012 budget shortfall is project to be at least $1 billion. In fact, Michigan’s Senate Fiscal Agency says the deficit could reach $1.85 billion for fiscal year 2012. Former Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s biggest failure was her lack of leadership, especially in her second term. So, she passes the structural budget deficit she inherited to Gov. Snyder, who I’m sure is blown away.

Michigan Works job fair

At the fundamental root of Michigan’s current crisis are jobs. Simple as that. For 50 months Michigan had the worst unemployment in the US, surrendering that dubious position to Nevada in June. Michigan’s unemployment rate is still 49th, tied with California at 12.4%, as if that’s anything worth bragging about. Part of the problem is a relatively business-unfriendly environment in the state. Michigan has the 3rd highest business tax rate and the 6th highest unemployment tax rate in the country. So, except for targeted tax incentive industries, like filming and movies, why would a business locate in Michigan?

While there are many others, I’m going to end with Michigan’s dysfunctional political process. New State Treasurer Andy Dillion admitted being part of the dysfunctional system. Granted, Snyder has Republican majorities in both houses of the state legislature, but that’s no guarantee. Like chief executives at all levels of government, unless Snyder can get the legislature behind his plans, he will accomplish nothing. His forays into bipartisanshp and forays into inclusivity could turn very quickly on him when he gets down to making hard decisions. Decisions, I might add, left over from his cronies’ former boss, big ole John Engler.



  1. Just *had* to comment on your post title: “Tough Row to Hoe”. I got quite a chuckle from it. Obviously you have some farm boy in you. I grew up on a farm in the 40’s and 50’s where we were in the fields from day light till dark. Hoeing cotton rows, peanut rows and pulling weeds was a big part of it. When you’re a kid they’re all “tough”.

    By the way – good post, too.

    Comment by The Old Man — Mon, 24 Jan 2011 @ 11:43 am

    • I’m actually a small town guy, so there’s not that much farm boy in me, but the analogy seemed to fit. Your comments tell me I was on the mark. Thanks.

      Comment by cynicalsynapse — Fri, 28 Jan 2011 @ 9:45 am

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