LANSING (WWJ/AP) – Governor Rick Snyder will deliver his third annual State of the State address Wednesday night to a joint session of the Michigan Legislature.
The Governor says one of his themes will be an effort to match job vacancies in Michigan with those who have the skills for those jobs. He’s also expected to announce plans for at least two summits in the near future — an economic development summit in March and an education summit in April.
Here’s five things to know about Snyder’s address:
1. HOW TO TUNE IN: Snyder will deliver the speech Wednesday to a joint session of the Michigan Legislature in the House chamber of the state Capitol. He is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. You’ll be able to hear a live broadcast of Snyder’s address on WWJ Newsradio 950 and at CBSDetroit.com. A webcast will be available at www.livestream.com/snyderlive.
2. ROADS AND BRIDGES: Few would dispute that Michigan’s road network needs rescuing. The Department of Transportation says 13 percent of the pavement on federal and state highways failed to get at least a “fair” rating last year. Many county and municipal roads also are in bad shape.
Snyder says generating new funding for Michigan’s ailing roads and bridges will be a key issue. Studies say the state needs to spend $1.5 billion a year to fix potholes and perform other maintenance.
The Republican governor’s proposals for higher taxes and vehicle registration fees gained little traction in the GOP-controlled House and Senate last year. He is expected to present new ideas in his speech.
Snyder told The Associated Press on Tuesday an important component of his plan will be preventive maintenance. He said he’ll make the case that raising money for transportation is a long-term investment that will strengthen the economy. But conservative groups can be expected to fight any effort to boost taxes.
3. UNFINISHED BUSINESS: Some big-ticket items from Snyder’s 2012 speech didn’t make it through the Legislature, and it’s uncertain whether he’ll raise them again.
After failing to win approval of a Detroit-Windsor bridge, he cut a deal with Canada to build it and successfully campaigned against a ballot measure designed to halt the new government-backed project.
Lawmakers also rejected the governor’s proposal for a state-run online marketplace where people and businesses could shop for health insurance. To meet requirements of the federal health care law, Snyder is working on an exchange to be run predominantly by the federal government.
His proposals last year for new policies on campaign finance, lobbying and ethics also went nowhere.
4. WOOING DEMOCRATS: Democrats will be looking for peace offerings. They remain deeply angry at Snyder, who they say uses moderate-sounding words to mask harshly conservative policies.
They’re particularly upset over his handling of right-to-work legislation, which he embraced during the December lame-duck session and signed quickly after the GOP-led Legislature rushed it to enactment. The law makes it illegal to require non-union workers to pay fees to unions that negotiate their contracts.
Newly elected House Democratic leader Tim Greimel says his party is distrustful of Snyder, who probably will need Democrats’ help to raise money for transportation.
5. PROTESTERS ARE BACK: They may not be as numerous or rowdy as during the right-to-work debate in December, when thousands jammed the hallways and grounds, but pro-labor demonstrators are expected to congregate outside the Capitol once more.
Unions representing state and local government employees and the United Auto Workers are among those planning to show up.
In an announcement before Wednesday’s protest, the UAW said Snyder will use his address “to justify policies that hurt the middle class.” The UAW is calling on members to bring friends, neighbors, co-workers and kids to the protest to “send the message that we can’t trust Gov. Snyder to tell it like it is for working families.”
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