SIDNEY — Voters will decide on six statewide proposals one week from today.
“A very crowded ballot,” observed Gov. Rick Snyder at a recent townhall-style meeting at Montcalm Community College.
The governor has his mind made up about how he’s voting on Nov. 6. He supports Proposal 1 and is against Proposals 2-6, all of which he calls “terrible public policy” as the proposals would change the Michigan Constitution.
“It’s yes on 1 and no on the rest, but I encourage you to do your own research and make your own decisions,” Snyder told the audience.
Proposal 1 is a referendum on the Emergency Manager Law established by Public Act 4, or the Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act.
“The emergency manager law we did is a very good law,” Snyder said. “It is making a positive difference in Michigan.
“We had an emergency manager law going back to Gov. (James) Blanchard, going back for a couple decades,” Snyder said. “The problem is … it didn’t have an early warning mechanism to say how do we work with schools or communities before they need an emergency manager, before there’s a huge crisis. So it put in an early warning system so we could work with communities and we’ve been able to help communities from being in the position of ever needing an emergency manager. The second thing we did is actually make it so when a manager came in they would have more capabilities and abilities to do their job, get done and really transition the community back faster to the community running itself, because in some cases we could have an emergency manager in place for several years because they weren’t fully able to do the things to get to financial stability so they could move on.”
Allen Park, Benton Harbor, Ecorse, Flint and Pontiac currently have emergency managers, as do school districts in Detroit, Highland Park and Muskegon Heights.
“We have over 500 school districts, we have over 2,000 jurisdictions in our state,” Snyder said. “We have eight communities and school districts in emergency status. Eight. That’s a fraction of 1 percent. But that fraction of 1 percent, these really are emergencies. There are real crisis going on that have been building for some time and something needed to be done.”
Proposal 2 would add the right of collective bargaining for public and private sector employees to the Michigan Constitution.
“Proposal 2 could wipe out whole subsections of the Michigan Constitution and up to 170 laws, which have been around for decades in some cases, just wipe them off the books, so we would have chaos for several years in our state and mostly likely have increased costs, of in my view, more than $1 billion a year to taxpayers if Proposal 2 was to pass,” Snyder said.
Proposal 3 would mandate that 25 percent of Michigan’s electricity must come from renewable resources by 2025.
“I actually think the concept of potentially having more renewables could be a good one, but we currently have a law saying we’re getting to 10 percent by 2015,” Snyer said. “I just think shouldn’t we wait and see how that’s working and then just do another law?
“The fatal flaw of this proposal is they want to put it in the Michigan Constitution, which is a terrible idea because the only grounds you can do it on is if you said you knew with certainty all the other variables,” he said. “We don’t have a federal energy policy! It’s like building a house with a foundation of sand.”
Proposal 4 would place features of the Michigan Quality Community Care Council in the Constitution, as well as providing home health care providers with limited collective bargaining.
Snyder said Proposal 4 “really isn’t about home health care, it’s about one union getting $6 million a year from, in many cases, people taking care of relatives and other people they know and taking precious dollars away from them that they could keep in their family.”
Proposal 5 would require that increases in state taxes must be approved by either a two-thirds majority in the Legislature or by a statewide vote.
Snyder pointed out that the proposal would include “any increase in rate or base.”
“If that would’ve been in Michigan’s Constitution a couple years ago, we would still have the Michigan Business Tax today because quite often tax reductions involves tax reform,” he said. “It would give special interests way too much power.”
Proposal 6 would require voter approval of any new bridge or tunnel from Michigan to Canada. One of the proposal’s most vocal supporters is billionaire Matty Moroun, one of the largest shareholders of the Ambassador Bridge from Michigan to Canada.
“I want to see the Ambassador Bridge keep going and be successful, because that is good for Michigan, but we need a second crossing, another crossing over the Detroit River,” Snyder said. “It’s just a wonderful opportunity.
“Have you ever voted for a bridge before?” the governor asked the audience. “This bridge to Canada is going to be paid for with no liability to Michigan taxpayers. That is iron-clad. That’s a done deal. It will generate tens of thousands of trade jobs and construction jobs. It’s a positive for every Michigander.”
Regarding the “Yes on Proposal 6” advertisements on TV, “The only accurate pieces of information is that there is a bridge and it’s in Michigan,” Snyder said. “There’s one billionaire that’s making a whole lot of money at everyone’s expense.”
Snyder noted that some ads claim Chinese steel will be used to build another bridge from Michigan to Canada.
“There is no Chinese steel in this project at all,” he said. “None. We’re building a bridge with Canada so we said shouldn’t we use U.S. and Canadian steel? We got letters of support from the U.S. and Canadian steel unions that it was a good thing to do.
“The longer we wait, the longer we delay those jobs,” the governor said.