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School Closing Information

Listeners Quiz Governor On Statewide Call-In Program

Courtney Hurtt, WDET

Gov. Snyder defends his record on statewide call-in program

Gov. Rick Snyder spent an hour fielding questions from Michiganders on Friday. The questions spanned a broad range of topics, including education, the economy, the environment, and social issues.

During his appearance on Michigan Public Radio's statewide call-in program Michigan calling, the governor pushed back against claims that his policies favor big businesses. He gave arguably his most detailed defense of sweeping tax changes made in his first year as governor.

Snyder told host Rick Pluta that it is unfair to say large corporations got a win at the expense of education and the middle class.

"Big business did not get a big tax benefit from the tax changes we made," said Snyder. "That didn't happen at all. The simple facts are the corporate rate's six percent. The individual rate is four-and-a-quarter percent. And I wiped out most of the tax credits in the corporate tax code."

Snyder is running for reelection in November. His Democratic challenger, former congressman Mark Schauer, says the governor also got rid of tax credits that benefitted middle class families and seniors to pay for the tax changes.

The governor also defended his decision to sign right-to-work legislation into law in 2012 after saying it was "not on my agenda." The law bans requiring workers to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment.
    
He said the law was a consequence of a failed labor-backed ballot proposal that would have enshrined collective bargaining in the state constitution.

"In fact, I asked labor, in particular, not to go ahead with their petition drive," Snyder said.

"That sounds an awful lot like payback," said host Rick Pluta.

"No, it's not payback," the governor responded. "Factually, that's why I walked through it, Rick, ahead of time. I didn't threaten. I just said my concern is, if this goes forward, this is a likely consequence. And I don't think anyone disagreed with that. Everyone understood that could be a consequence."
    
Snyder says the right-to-work law makes Michigan more attractive for businesses. Schauer has vowed to repeal the law.

Later in the program, the governor dismissed the idea of legalizing marijuana in Michigan. He says it's not up to the state to decide whether marijuana should be legal or illegal.

"It doesn't make it legal. It's against federal law," he said.

Mark Schauer talked about the issue on the program in July, saying, "I would not want to lead on that issue."

Schauer says he would wait to see what happens in states like Colorado and Washington that have already legalized marijuana before doing something similar in Michigan.