OUR VIEW: We’re on the right track with Gov. Snyder

By Daily News • Last Updated 12:43 am on Saturday, January 21, 2012

Gov. Rick Snyder delivers his second State of the State address on Wednesday.

Gov. Rick Snyder’s second State of the State address on Wednesday sounded familiar. A lot of his key points were repeats from last year: Fix education, implement good government, build a new bridge to Canada, fix our roads and make Michigan the most business friendly state in America.
The single overarching theme of Wednesday’s speech was encouragement to stay the course and continue allowing policies announced or passed last year to work.
That’s a laudable goal in some areas, but more needs to be done elsewhere.
The biggest legislation from Snyder’s first year in office undoubtedly was the tax shift that increased taxes on millions of individuals while cutting taxes for businesses. Snyder sold the package as the best way to encourage businesses to locate and grow in Michigan. To that point, he may be succeeding.
Unemployment statewide dropped back into the single digits in 2011, from 11.1 percent to 9.3 percent. That’s the lowest jobless rate in Michigan since 2008. Michigan also added 80,000 private sector jobs in 2011. Part of that likely is due to improving economic indicators nationwide, but we can’t count out Snyder’s policies for helping.
All signs are pointing up, so we say stay the course with the economy until proven otherwise. Michigan lost hundreds of thousands of jobs in the last decade, so the recovery will be slow and painstaking. But as long as the signs keep pointing up, let’s not change anything.
However, more needs to be done for our veterans. The jobless rate for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars stands at a staggering 29 percent. Obviously, some targeted help is in order there.
We appreciated Snyder’s promise to allocate $1.4 billion more for fixing roads and bridges. A short drive anywhere in the state will show they need help — badly. We look forward to hearing more about what we can to make improvements.
Education also needs help. A scant 17 percent of high school graduates are ready for college. That’s absolutely abysmal in today’s economy.
Snyder’s predecessor, Gov. Jennifer Granholm, was a champion of education and devoted a significant amount of her time to improving it. There’s little doubt Snyder is good at managing our budget and economy, but education obviously is not his forte. Maybe this year he should reinvent his ideas for getting results in the classroom, not simply balancing school district’s books.
As the adage goes, a rising tide makes all boats float higher. If Michigan’s economy keeps rising all of these problems likely will take care of themselves. More jobs means more tax revenue, which is in short supply around Lansing these days. We don’t want to see a return to profligate government spending, but Michigan is barely able to provide the basics nowadays.
We’re confident the right man is on the job to help bring in more money and see that it gets spent well.

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