Governor Rick Snyder has begun his second term as Michigan’s 48th governor. He took the oath of office in a ceremony on the steps of the state Capitol in the freezing cold. Rick Pluta was there.
A few hundred people bundled up to brave the cold and witness the start of Governor Snyder’s second term. The term-limited governor cannot run again, but says it would be a mistake to think of him as a lame duck. He said people who might think that don’t know him.
“In fact, my answer to you is, as we’ve solved these problems, now is the time to step on the accelerator, now is the time to set the foundation to make Michigan a great state.”
The Republican governor ticked off the accomplishments of his first term – the Detroit takeover and bankruptcy ranked high, but he also pointed to the declining unemployment rate, progress in fixing the child foster care system, and expanded access to pre-school as evidence of the state’s recovery.
“We had to deal with huge problems. We were a broken state. We’re a state that’s a comeback state now, a state that’s growing and thriving, but we have more work to be done.”
In his second term, the governor says he intends to focus on making Michigan a leading state in training people for openings in the skilled trades. The governor – believed to be at least interested in running for president – says the disconnect between training and the skills employers are looking for is a national problem.
“Let’s lead the nation in career tech education and the skilled trades.”
The governor made no mention of the political fights in his first term – voter rejection of his first emergency manager law, the raucous legislative session that produced Michigan’s right-to-work law, the fight over expanding Medicaid under the federal health care law. Instead, he focused on instances where he was able to forge agreements
“I’m proud to say ‘relentless positive action’ works. What it is for those of you who haven’t seen it in action – it’s not about who gets credit. It’s not about fighting. It’s not about blame. It’s about understanding our role is to work together as a team and to solve problems to make us a better, stronger state.”
There was a lone demonstrator at the event. Bob Fluke’s gay pride flag flapped in the wind throughout the ceremony.
“I just want to make sure they don’t forget about human rights as they’re writing legislation.”
That was also a controversy of Snyder’s first term. The governor waffled on adding gay rights to the Michigan’s civil rights law until this past summer, when he called on the Legislature to debate the topic without endorsing a specific result. That effort stalled and the question could wind up in front of voters if a ballot drive is launched.
Another bit of unfinished business from Snyder’s first term is road funding. The governor used his inaugural address to ask people to vote in May to raise the sales tax to help pay for roads. If that fails, it’s back to square one. And, despite the economy rebounding, Michigan could face some budget challenges in 2015. The governor says that makes the prospect of a tax cut – longed for by many incoming Republican lawmakers – an unlikely prospect.