Snyder hits Washington ‘gridlock’

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — Republican Gov. Rick Snyder used the end of his State of the State speech Tuesday night to draw comparison to his track record and President Barack Obama’s just an hour before the Democratic president gave his annual address to Congress.

“It’s kind of interesting the timing of this event. In a couple of hours, you get to hear another speech,” Snyder said. “And what I would say on that is I think it’s a great opportunity to watch both speeches. And not just watch the speeches, but watch the outcome and results.”

The governor added: “While we solve problems in Michigan, we have gridlock in Washington. And this is not a partisan comment folks — both sides have these issues. Gridlock is not a good answer for any of us.”

Snyder got a standing ovation from fellow Republicans who dominated the Legislature when he uttered his trademark motto after commenting on partisan gridlock in Washington.

“And if you look at the positioning, they’re already figuring out how to take shots at one another,” Snyder said. “We don’t do that here. Does it make a difference? It absolutely does. We use relentless positive action.”

The governor routinely emphasizes problem solving in the approach he took during his first term, from tackling Detroit’s financial crisis to lowering unfunded liabilities for school and state employee legacy costs.

“We use relentless positive action to solve the tough problems, while they spend most of their time on fighting and blame and leaving those problems for future generations,” Snyder said.

In recent weeks, Snyder’s name has crept up on some national pundits’ lists as a potential presidential candidate because of his efforts in Detroit and bipartisan coalition building, such as raising the minimum wage and adding more than 500,000 low-income adults to the Medicaid health insurance program.

“We balance budgets. We pay our debts. We reformed our tax system to be simple, fair and efficient,” Snyder said. “We’ve worked above politics to great things, as I mentioned the ‘grand bargain’ (and) Healthy Michigan. We’re leading the nation in creating manufacturing jobs. We lead the nation in early childhood education. We’re going to lead the nation in career education. We’re going to lead the nation in treating our citizens as real people, not programs.”

The governor has made no effort to tamp down the White House talk.

Snyder’s fifth State of the State address began at 7 p.m.

Obama’s seventh State of the Union address began at 9 p.m.

The governor’s office scheduled the State of the State on the same night as the State of the Union so he could speak at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland later this week.

But Snyder had to cancel the trip to Switzerland after rupturing his Achilles’ heel while jogging earlier this month on vacation in Florida.

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Other Snyder initiatives

Gov. Rick Snyder announced Tuesday he wants to pursue several initiatives in the year ahead, including:

■An energy policy he’ll roll out in March with goals of reducing waste, continuing a coal-to-natural gas and renewables conversion. He’ll also describe a new Agency for Energy to oversee state policies.

■Plans for a law to reduce prescription drug and opioid abuse, which he said affects more than 650,000 Michiganians and now causes four times as many deaths as in 1999. He will provide details in October.

■Legislation and a “commission outside state government” to improve third-grade reading tests scores and proficiency. Lawmakers were unsuccessful in forging a policy during their last session.

■New criminal justice policies to be outlined in a March special message.

■An “early warning” system for public school systems matching criteria lawmakers and Snyder developed last year to respond more nimbly to financial crises in municipalities.

■A March series of statewide jobs and education summits aimed toward policies that break down “arbitrary barriers” to higher education and push to make Michigan the leaders in skilled trades training

— Gary Heinlein