Governor Synder rescued Michigan from ruin

Justin Bis

As citizens, we are a pretty pessimistic bunch about government. In a majority of cases, that is absolutely warranted. War, corruption, deficits, demagoguery, high taxes, constant lying from both sides — politics of fear — pretty much sums up how we see the federal government, now doesn’t it?

We’re pessimistic because we don’t think they have our best interests at heart or that government can ever accomplish anything meaningful. The era of statesmanship seems to be long gone.

Here in Michigan, citizens are not immune towards cynicism. In fact, we’re more attuned to it.

In Michigan’s lost decade of 2000-10, we lost 750,000 jobs. Unemployment stood at a staggering 14.2 percent.

Our generation grew up during this era. This is when we were more or less aware of the suffering. Most of us had parents or a neighbor — or several neighbors — lose jobs.

Many of us had friends who had to move across the country. All of us experienced the pain, fear and uncertainty of the time.

Michiganders had a lot to be cynical about. The attitude in government during this era was at first ignorance.

During the first few years of the 2000s, Michigan’s politicians tried to paint what would become Michigan’s greatest economic downturn as a small bump in the road.

Then, as the crisis was deepened, it became terror and hysteria in Lansing. Both parties blamed each other; both were finger pointing, name calling and providing excuses for not acting. The situation brings a lot of parallels with the state of Congress today.

The last few years in Michigan have been very different.

A dark horse candidate beat the party stalwarts, and with his message of ending the era of gridlock and hyper partisanship, he won in a landslide.

No, I am not talking about Barack Obama.

The man who changed government as Michiganders know it is Rick Snyder. Rick Snyder, the nerdy, uncharismatic technocrat, is an exemplary statesman. Coming into office with Michigan at the deepest depths of the Great Recession, Governor Snyder has never once mentioned his predecessor.

He does not engage in the name calling, the finger pointing or for passing up responsibility. His modus operandi is “Relentless Positive Action.” And with it, Snyder’s been able to make Michigan a comeback state.

So how did Snyder help give Michigan its comeback? His platform is designed around jobs, people and good government. Let’s start with jobs. Snyder got rid of special tax exemptions, special tax credits and specific business taxes.

They were replaced with a simple tax and regulatory system that treated all businesses the same. This means there is one flat tax on all businesses, with minimal exceptions. The old system based on cronyism—where lucrative tax incentives were handed out to those who knew the policy makers, while existing business found their taxes going up and up — is gone.

Sure, Hollywood movies and lithium batteries saw a rollback in tax relief, but the labor intensive industries of small business and manufacturing saw massive growth. The Snyder administration has been active on getting rid of onerous regulations. For every new rule the Snyder administration made, 10 were removed.

The state has also been focused on the people’s welfare. Despite massive losses in state revenue, the Governor has put a priority on education: 63 percent of state resources are allotted to education.  While there have been some initial reductions, a lot of money saved by our upgraded credit rating and debt repayment is now being reinvested.

For homeowners, the last couple years have been much better. The personal property tax has been eliminated and because of the improved outlook on Michigan real estate, home prices rose five percent this year and sales increased 10 percent.

Here in the Upper Peninsula, there have been many important policy changes. Governor Snyder led a team of private capitalists in saving the Manistique Paper Mill and the Marquette Presque Isle Power Plant from closure due to changes in EPA standards. He also changed the way mines are taxed, making the Upper Peninsula even more attractive for investment.

Dozens of mines are being planned as this article is written — which will be able to employ hundreds or even thousands of Yoopers. It is now almost time for us students to join the job market in Michigan.

Would you rather be looking for a job today or back in 2009? Liberal or conservative—nobody would choose 2009. Michigan has made a lot of progress. Within two busy years, Michigan’s unemployment fell to 8.2 percent.

I applaud Governor Synder, a true statesman, and I wish him Godspeed. Maybe leaders in neighboring states and even in Washington D.C. should take notice how government is managed here in Michigan.