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Snyder speaks to local elite at Economic Club Luncheon

May 17, 2011

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder spoke to a crowded room yesterday in the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel at an Economics Club luncheon.

The talk given by Snyder was almost identical to the one he gave 6 weeks ago in Grand Rapids to a Chamber of Commerce audience. Snyder stuck to his mantra of reinventing Michigan and gave his 4-month summary of what he feels his administration has accomplished.

Snyder boasted about the creation of a dashboard, which he thinks is a customer friendly way of providing Michigan citizens a way to measure government performance.

The Governor then outlined what he called his roadmap for making certain economic changes happen right away. In February he passed the elimination of the Michigan Business Tax (MBT) and said, “the wicked witch is dead.” He went on to say that eliminating the MBT was all about job creation and is the best thing for the Middle Class. After that comment the room gave him a resounding applause.

In March, Snyder said, the focus was local government reform, which he announced in Grand Rapids. His Emergency Financial Managers law was designed to “help our communities succeed.” Snyder also said that his revenue sharing revisions would make it easier for service consolidation and service management. In addition, he believes that cities will have to “compete for best practices” in order to get tax revenues and communities are “not entitled to that money.”

Snyder also mentioned his budget reform plan his work on changing how Michigan does education. Snyder believes the education system is broken and that this system is “geared to make money and not educate our children.”

Snyder then went on to say that once the budget is completed he plans to address the issue of health and wellness, followed by infrastructure improvements and workforce development, which he referred to as “talent development.” “The greatest resource we have is not the Great Lakes, it is people,” said Snyder. He wants to connect together people and resources that are developing talent.

The Governor ended his comments by talking about the need for Michigan to change its attitude and be more positive about the assets and resources in the state. Snyder called this Relentless Positive Action or RPA. The statement felt like we were all at a positive thinking workshop, but at the same time it made perfect sense, considering who was in attendance.

Like any politician Snyder was giving his audience what they wanted to hear and since his audience was the elite financial sectors of West Michigan his comments were well received. Many of the people in the room are direct beneficiaries of the kinds of economic policies that Snyder is imposing on the state, policies that also seek to privatize public services and give more tax dollars to the private sector.

All one had to do was look at who shared a table with the Governor to see who has access to political power. Surrounding Snyder was Sam Cummings, a local businessman who owns a substantial amount of downtown property in Grand Rapids. Next to Cummings was Senator Mark Jansen who has been highly supportive of Snyder’s policy decisions.

Also at the table were Mark Murray (Meijer), Fred Keller (Cascade Engineering), David Van Andel and right next to Snyder was Rich DeVos. Doug DeVos introduced Snyder and Dick and Betsy were seated at an adjacent table.

Considering who was surrounding Snyder it is no surprise that the Governor was so well received and why he kept referring to everything in business terms. Snyder must have said the word entrepreneurship a dozen times and even referred to his policies as creating “governmental entrepreneuralship.”

Outside of the Econ Club luncheon about 50 people had gathered to protest the Governor’s visit. People held signs while some marched and chanted slogans challenging the economic policies that are attacking working class people. However, such a small turnout did not seem to have much of an impact on Snyder or those at the luncheon and unlike the last time Snyder spoke in Grand Rapids he didn’t even mention the statewide protests.

However, while Snyder wooed the wealthy members of the Econ Club a press conference was held in Detroit to kick off a campaign to repeal the Emergency Financial Managers (EFM) law, known as Public Act 4, which we reported on yesterday. Whether or not this is the most effective strategy to reverse the policies of the current administration in Lansing remains to be seen.

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