Despite media speculation, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder didn’t indicate any plans to make the University private in his State of the State address last night. In fact, Snyder barely mentioned the University. His speech focused heavily on his plans for the economy, explaining that “job one is jobs” and his plan to support Michigan businesses. While repairing the economy is a top priority and his economic platform appears thorough and well planned, Snyder only elaborated on one point of his five-point “Michigan dashboard.” Though his speech was optimistic for Michigan’s business industry, Snyder needs to ensure that other sectors — particularly education — aren’t neglected.
Snyder delivered his first State of the State address in Lansing on Wednesday night. Snyder spoke in detail about measuring the state’s performance through a report card that would gauge the state’s success. He presented a tool for monitoring the state’s progress that he called the “Michigan dashboard,” which incorporates 21 measures in five key areas. In his speech, Snyder listed the components of the Michigan Dashboard as: economic growth, value for government, quality of life, public safety and health and education.
Snyder is clearly focused and enthusiastic about his plans for the economy. He began his speech by stating, “Economic development is the focus of the night.” In talking about plans for developing Michigan, he indicated his plans to eliminate the controversial Michigan business tax and replace it with a 6-percent corporate net income tax. Snyder also expressed his support for a second downriver bridge — a joint project with the Canadian government that will hopefully foster international trade. These plans have the potential to help grow Michigan businesses and bring people to the state.
Though the economy is obviously a priority, there are other pressing issues for the state. And while Snyder described them as part of his Michigan dashboard, he went into no detail about the future of the public sector, the environment or social issues. Snyder mentioned his support for environmental projects and expanding the University Research Corridor so that it’s accessible for all students in Michigan, but he failed to explain how he would do so. It’s troubling that these topics and programs received so little attention compared to the economy.
An obvious concern for students was also glossed over last night — the future of education in Michigan. Snyder briefly mentioned that the emphasis should be on P-20 education — an education system that includes pre-natal through college — and that he plans to address education in April. But with potential cuts to public education funding in the new budget, administrators need to be informed further in advance of their school’s financial status. Snyder focused on the importance of retaining young people after they graduate, but he needs to ensure that resources remain available for current Michigan students as well.
Though Snyder’s economic plans were positive, it’s concerning that describing them took nearly the entire hour. The state has too many problems for Snyder to afford the kind of one-dimensional approach that his speech exhibited last night. He needs to make sure that all Michigan issues are given the focus they deserve.