We hired Rick Snyder to be governor of the state of Michigan. He took over a state in a horrible financial position with unfunded (meaning no money set aside) public liabilities reaching more than $60 billion.
This is the result of decades of politicians pumping their careers by promising unsuspecting public employees that the beneficence of all the good times would go on forever. They were wrong, and in the process, they were either incompetent, deceiving, or both.
Gov. Snyder may or may not be the proverbial “Man on Horseback,” but he is a businessman with no political portfolio. The challenges of the future he seems to understand are obviously beyond the imagination of the protectors of the status quo and decidedly against their self-interests. Snyder is being showered by cheap shots about a business bias; as if business and industry do not bring jobs? He wants common business sense in Michigan’s government operations, an obvious heretofore ignored goal. Neither business nor public institutions can succeed unless revenues exceed expenses, and that simple economic reality, despite repeated examples of public system failures, still hasn’t moved many politicians and numerous special interest organizations from the selfish pursuit of the financial feathering of their own political and institutional nests.
Gov. Snyder’s approval ratings are consistently lukewarm, considering the legislative successes he’s achieved. So just what has he done wrong? Where his predecessors, both Republican and Democrat, took irresponsible political advantage of the times, he’s staked his reputation on stopping Michigan’s steady descent into economic irrelevancy. He’s placed his job on the line to bring Michigan an economy where all workers, private, public and union, can acquire decent health care and retirement assurances.
No doubt low poll ratings are due to Snyder’s insistence on Michigan’s living within our means. There’s understandable pushback from state agencies to the reining in of job benefits that most taxpayers can no longer aspire to or acquire. In changing times, we are agitated when it’s an entitlement ox of ours that’s being gored. So we attack the agent of change. Agent Snyder has looked down the road, and fought against letting legislators kick the liability can even further into our children’s future.
Strangely, his efforts to make Michigan able to afford future obligations have drawn little support from those with the most to lose: retired public employees. They have a huge interest in the state’s solvency, because many of the folks who made promises to them have long since left the scene. Snyder should be their hero, because if there’s no solvency, there’s nothing left for them. We nevertheless wonder just why, in a state facing all sorts of challenge and change. Snyder is presented as a pariah, when he seemingly sincerely wants to save us from the troubles we refuse to face.
The governor if nothing else is being realistic, and he has refused to be baited into right-to-work battles and other issues designed to distract public attention from improving Michigan’s credit rating. Let’s give the governor credit for standing strong for a business-friendly environment, and for a state that can meet its commitments.
Editorial opinions are the consensus of The Daily News editorial board.