LANSING (AP) – Gov. Rick Snyder will lay out his 2014 agenda Thursday in his fourth annual State of the State address.
Here’s five things to know about his speech:
1. HINTS FOR BUDGET
The Republican governor typically uses the State of State to touch on broader themes, saving key details on many initiatives – including a potential tax cut or rebate – for his budget proposal due in three weeks. But there will be hints at his spending plan.
Eliminating a waiting list so 16,000 more disadvantaged 4-year-olds can attend preschool for free is close to his heart, and he’s likely to tout Michigan landing for the first time federal grants to improve early learning programs.
The state is expected to collect nearly $1 billion more in taxes than anticipated from last fiscal year through next.
“I think it’s something we should be proud of and highlight,” Snyder told The Associated Press on Tuesday at the auto show in Detroit. “It’s because the economy is growing. … I view it as a good problem to have.”
2. COMEBACK STATE
Up for re-election in November, Snyder no doubt will continue talking up Michigan as the “comeback state.” So expect mention of the auto industry’s resurgence, tourism, Detroit’s bankruptcy restructuring, the extra revenue, improved credit ratings, modest job gains and the population growing for the second straight year after years of decline.
He’ll again forgo a teleprompter and base his speech on a two-page outline.
3. UNFINISHED BUSINESS
Snyder is likely to revisit items from last year’s State of the State that stalled in the GOP-led Legislature. Though he already has dialed back expectations of major election-year legislative achievements before November, he remains hopeful lawmakers could agree to replace Michigan’s flat per-gallon fuel taxes with percentage levies based on the wholesale price.
He may try again for gasoline tax and license plate fee hikes, but legislators are much more likely to instead use some of the surplus for another temporary boost in road spending.
Other bills Snyder is hoping to revive – but remain stalled – would expand a state district for K-12 schools in the lowest 5 percent for student test scores and lower auto insurance premiums while scaling back unlimited medical care for people seriously injured in vehicle crashes.
4. ANYTHING NEW?
Snyder likely will focus mostly on updating legislators and the public on previously announced plans and the state of his Michigan Dashboard: measures in key areas such as economic growth and citizens’ health.
Yet look for him to possibly illustrate further some of his ideas on immigration – he says Michigan needs more immigrants – improving mental health services and foreshadowing a later special message on seniors.
5. THE OTHER SIDE
Democrats say what the governor doesn’t talk about will be just as important as the “spin” on his record and the record of GOP lawmakers.
He won’t ask for a minimum wage increase they and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer are seeking. He won’t mention tax increases on individuals that were enacted to offset a business tax cut “to corporations and the wealthy,” House Minority Leader Tim Greimel said Wednesday while flanked by fellow Democrats, a minimum-wage Burger King worker and a retired teacher whose pension is no longer exempted from taxation.
The most recent monthly unemployment rate of 8.8 percent in November is down just slightly from 8.9 percent when Snyder delivered his last State of the State and is the third-highest in the U.S.
“It’s clear the Republicans are not on the side of everyday people,” Greimel said.
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