Forging ahead with his mantra of ‘relentless positive action’ that virtually defies the existence of any negativity, Gov. Rick Snyder delivered an upbeat address to a largely supportive Mackinac Island Policy Conference crowd who seemed to appreciate his message that Michigan’s story is much more positive than the persistent headlines of Flint and Detroit Public Schools disaster indicate. Although Snyder acknowledged the difficulties, he insisted that the crowd should see the light at the end of the tunnel where Michigan would flip the negative narrative to one where Michigan will be recognized as a role model for how a state confronts and defeats its demons.
“In terms of where we’re at, with jobs and the economy, we’re doing very well. We are the comeback state. 460,000 private sector jobs have been created in the past 5 years. That’s huge. Our unemployment rate is below the national average,” he said. “If you look at the numbers since January, we’ve had over 104,000 people enter the labor market. This includes people who didn’t think they had an opportunity to get a job before. That’s the size of Lansing or Ann Arbor or Flint now working in our state.
“We’re also seeing personal income come back in this state. In the lost decade we were ranked 43rd in the nation. Over the last 5 years we ranked #8. Over the last 12 months we ranked #4. People are doing better.”
Addressing the Flint crisis, Snyder said it was an opportunity to tackle the massive need for a statewide infrastructure overhaul, particularly in urban communities, as well as to deal with the issue of water and sewer. Rebuilding Flint will be a tremendous challenge, but to Snyder it is nothing more than that. He is determined to correct the catastrophe that occurred on his watch, putting to rest any speculation that he has any intention whatsoever of leaving office before his time is up – and before he solves this problem.
“It can be done. How many people going back five years would see the bright future of Detroit the way it is today? …I’m not worried about how I get written up, because when they write the history books on Detroit, most likely they’ll write that I was the governor of the state of Michigan and I was the person who declared a state of bankruptcy at the lowest point in the history of Detroit. The way I look at it, that’s a good answer. Because if I didn’t go through the process of declaring the bankruptcy, then probably the day after that, and the day after that would be the worst day in the history of Detroit. So wasn’t it time to draw the line and say it’s time for us to change? It’s time to re-write that book.”
“We’re showing that we can bounce back, that we’re at our very best when we’re one Michigan. That’s when we’re one great state. This is not about what government can do. This is not about what our education system can do. This is not about what any single industry can do. This is what 10 million people can do when they have a common [goal].
“We’re now in a world with far too many people in this country spending their time blaming one another spending their time on non-value added things and it doesn’t help solve anything. Here in Michigan we could be the role model to say we’re one Michigan. We need to believe in ourselves. We need to believe in one another. I’ve met a lot of people who have said they were praying for me and I was in their prayers. Thank you. Because that’s the spirit of Michiganders. To say when we have tough things happen, we solve them.”
“We need to speak up and tell the Michigan story, truthfully. Because truthfully it’s a great story.”