State of the State 2015: Michigan will create environment that helps everyone to succeed

Gov. Rick Snyder says effective and accountable government, unparalleled collaboration are keys to ‘The River of Opportunity’

Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan will create an environment in which all residents can succeed, regardless of their stage in life, through a strategic realignment of government services and unparalleled public-private collaboration, Gov. Rick Snyder said during his fifth State of the State address.

The governor outlined his vision for focusing government on people rather than programs, with the support of new, robust collaboration. He called this new perspective of government, which will be structured from the people’s point of view, “The River of Opportunity.”

“This country was founded as a nation of opportunity,” Snyder said. “But too many of our residents find themselves with barriers in that River of Opportunity, whether it’s because they are struggling with poverty, don’t have parents in their lives, lack a good education, suffer from an illness or disability, or don’t have transportation necessary for school or work. Government and nonprofits are in the forefront of offering help, but we must fundamentally reshape the way in which we do that.

“We will reorganize government so it treats individuals as real people, not as numbers on a page, as too often is the case with myriad programs that lack coordination. It’s time to maximize our resources on solutions, not bureaucracy. Working with people as complete human-beings enables us to more effectively solve root causes of barriers to success, rather than just the symptoms. Our goal must be to create opportunities, not dependencies. We can do this, and I look forward to continuing my partnership with the Legislature and stakeholders statewide. Working together, we’ll show the rest of the nation that Michiganders stand together, and that there’s no better place to live, work and play than the Great Lakes State.”

Four years of strong fiscal stewardship, thoughtful policymaking, bold innovation and genuine leadership have given Michigan a solid platform for continued growth in 2015. Numerous indicators underscore the state’s turnaround, including the creation of over 300,000 private-sector jobs since December 2010 and consecutive years of population increases.

“Across our peninsulas and in every corner of this state, Michiganders are contributing to our shared future through collaboration, innovation and a genuine confidence that the path we’re on is the right one,” Lt. Gov. Brian Calley said. “Each day, we break new ground, find creative solutions to challenges and keep driving forward. That’s the Michigan way.”

Snyder offered the following priorities to continue Michigan’s impressive rebound while ensuring that all residents have the tools and opportunities to share in the comeback:

Transportation: Our crumbling roads and bridges are a public safety concern for Michiganders. In some cases, plywood is being used on bridges to hold concrete from falling onto our roads, and one in nine bridges is structurally deficient. Snyder will:

  • Highlight the need to fix our neglected roads and bridges in a manner that also protects our schools and lower-income Michiganders.

“The River of Opportunity”: The governor will emphasize efficient, effective and accountable government that offers people the help they need when they need it by:

  • Reorganizing the departments of Community Health and Human Services to create the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Continue innovative programs and systematically review others to make necessary reforms in order to ensure state government is able to effectively assist individuals.

Education: The governor recognizes that creating opportunities for success starts with education. His goals include:

  • Partnering with the Legislature to enact legislation to improve third-grade reading this year. As part of the effort, he is calling for the establishment of a commission outside of state government, which includes business and philanthropic communities that will develop recommendations on specific actions to improve third-grade reading scores.
  • Vigorous collaboration between high schools and higher education to create opportunities and cost-savings for students. One of the top priorities is to make Michigan a national leader in connecting individuals to high-demand, good-paying careers in skilled trades. Snyder, lawmakers and partners in the education community continue to emphasize the importance of career technical and skilled-trades opportunities.

More and better jobs: Growing the economy demands collaboration, innovation and good public policy. Snyder committed to: 

  • Creating “Regional Prosperity Teams,” which are multidisciplinary teams that will work in communities with our regional partners, helping ensure that no area of the state is left behind in economic development efforts and supporting the region's strategic vision for its future.
  • Encouraging lawmakers to have a serious discussion on the merits of expanding Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.

People: Because good public health is vital to a strong Michigan, the governor: 

  • Called for the development of an aggressive strategy to combat prescription opioid abuse. The number of unintentional drug poisoning fatalities has increased dramatically, with the rate nearly quadrupling since 1999.

Energy and environment: Michigan’s energy policy needs to be set by Michiganders, if our system is going to be adaptable and energy will be affordable, reliable and environmentally protective. The governor will:

  • Establish an agency for energy so that our energy policy experts are under one roof, which will help Michigan formulate its own statewide energy policy. The governor also will prepare a special message on energy in March.
  • Call for continued investment and collaboration to combat invasive species.

Efficient, effective and accountable government: Government must be accountable, effective, efficient and transparent. To ensure that taxpayers are properly served, and that state government is a partner in success rather than a barrier, the governor will:

  • Work with legislative partners and stakeholders to develop a performance and financial grading system for all public-sector entities, including schools and municipalities. This helps to ensure that services provided by the public sector are effective and efficient.
  • Urge the establishment of a “fiscal note” requirement for pending legislation. This provides a written estimate of the cost of proposed legislation, which is useful in ensuring a balanced budget.
  • Work with partners to create a better option for school districts that are in challenged communities. Its guiding principle should be to do what’s right for the kids, not the adults. 
  • Fully implement the Regional Prosperity Initiative, which enhances state service delivery and empowers local economies to collaborate on a regional basis, without adding layers of government or bureaucracy.

For more State of the State information, visit www.michigan.gov/stateofthestate or join the conversation at #misots15.  

 

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