Farmington Hills — Gov. Rick Snyder concluded his six-city re-election tour Tuesday with a stop at Oakland County Community College, where he touted technical training and associate degree programs.
“We know how to make things in our state, and we’ve done that historically better than anyone else,” Snyder told a small group of students, teachers and business leaders at the college’s Oak Ridge Campus. “Let’s get our act together again, go back to what’s important and do it really well.”
Snyder said 60,000 skilled trade jobs in the state can’t be filled because there is a lack of trained workers. The solution, said Snyder: collaborate with the private sector to see what the needs are, create education programs that meet those needs and connect the two.
The governor said he was looking toward the success of Michigan’s Advance Technician Training Program, a state-supported associate’ degree program offered through OCC. The program places students in technical positions where their gain real-world experience while studying.
“Some of these kids, they’ve been pressured for too long to get university degrees,” said Snyder. “But we forgot to equally emphasize the skilled trade.”
Snyder did not offer specifics on which skilled trade programs would be expanded nor how much state money would be allotted.
Prior to Tuesday’s visit, Snyder held press events at James Group International in Detroit, Two Men and a Truck in Lansing, the Downtown Market in Grand Rapids, Alfie Embroidery in Traverse City and Zehnder’s in Frankenmuth.
The tour marked Snyder’s official announcement that he is seeking another term. It comes on the heels of a $700,000 Super Bowl ad Sunday that billed Snyder as the “comeback kid” of Michigan.
Snyder’s appearance brought out demonstrators with the Democratic party and retired teachers’ organizations.
Jim Pearson of Highland Township is a retired former Huron Valley Schools teacher. He opposed Snyder’s decision to tax retiree pensions and says he has to pay an extra $1,400 a year to the state on his benefits.
“I’m 65 years old,” he said. “I can’t easily go and find another source of income.”
At a previous press conference on the tour, the governor said Michigan has gained 220,000 private-sector jobs since he took office in January 2011, leads the country in manufacturing job growth, is third in high-tech job growth and is fourth in high-paying job growth.
Snyder is expected to release his latest budget proposals Wednesday.
Senate Democratic leader Gretchen Whitmer says Snyder’s proposals are harming education funding.
“While the governor is keen on branding himself ‘The Comeback Kid,’ he has proven to be nothing more than what we knew him to be all along — an accountant compelled to cook the books in order to tell his own version of the truth,” the East Lansing Democrat said in a statement Tuesday. “You don’t need to look any further than the nearest teacher, student, parent or school board member to witness just how hard our schools have been hit under this administration.”