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State of the State: Snyder says Michigan's comeback continues

 More and better jobs, attracting global talent among priorities

 Thursday, January 16, 2014

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan will fuel its impressive comeback through innovations such as a statewide system for training and educating skilled technicians, attracting global talent and reinventing the way in which services to residents in need are provided, Gov. Rick Snyder said in his fourth State of the State address.

“The Michigan of 2014 is an exciting place to be,” Snyder said. “It’s a new year and we have new ideas that will keep our comeback in high gear. Whether it’s encouraging the creation of more and better jobs, preparing children for tomorrow’s opportunities, protecting our precious natural resources or supporting residents with special needs, we’ll work collaboratively across the state to find Michigan solutions to Michigan challenges. I appreciate the Legislature’s work in moving our state forward and we’ll continue that partnership in the months ahead.”

Michigan’s Dashboard, implemented by Snyder in 2011, shows progress on several fronts. For example, the state leads all others in the growth of manufacturing jobs. Michigan has added nearly 221,000 private-sector jobs since December 2010. Michigan’s per capita personal income growth rate is tied for No. 1 among Great Lakes states. In addition, Michigan’s population has marked the first consecutive years’ growth since 2003-04.

“Michigan is a leader, not a follower,” Lt. Gov. Brian Calley said. “You can see that approach in our bold agenda, which is delivering real results for real people. Our path to success is built on a foundation of fiscal responsibility, tax fairness and good government. It’s a blueprint that has made Michigan the comeback state, and one that would serve Washington well.”

Snyder said policymakers and stakeholders must continue working together to accelerate Michigan’s positive momentum through creativity and shared vision.

The governor called for:

More and Better Jobs

Continuing the administration’s laser focus on creating an environment that encourages job growth and prosperity. This includes:

  • Making Michigan even more welcoming to immigrants with advanced academic degrees or entrepreneurial aspirations, allowing the state to benefit from their countless contributions, including job creation. Snyder will create the Michigan Office for New Americans, which will drive strategies for attracting immigrants to Michigan. Snyder also is urging Congress to approve Michigan’s application to become only the second state with a state-sponsored EB-5 visa regional center. The EB-5 is a tool for attracting investment and creating jobs for U.S. workers.

• Stepping up efforts to connect job providers and talent. The governor this year again will host economic and education summits to foster greater collaboration between the private sector and education community.

 • Expanding the Michigan Advanced Technician Training (MAT2) program, an employer-driven initiative that helps employers bridge the “skills gap” through a statewide system for training and educating skilled technicians to fill high-paying jobs. Henry Ford Community College and Oakland Community College will serve as pilot locations for the program, which is a unique model that also includes best practices from

 • Continuing the successful Community Ventures program, a public/private/nonprofit partnership created to hire at least 1,000 structurally unemployed residents from distressed neighborhoods, initially in the cities of Flint, Detroit, Pontiac and Saginaw. First-year goals have been met, resulting in jobs for over 1,400 structurally unemployed residents.

• Supporting small businesses through creative partnerships. Under the Pure Michigan Micro Lending Initiative, Huntington Bank has committed $5 million for a pilot program in Detroit to help small businesses grow. Upon its successful completion, Huntington will commit $20 million more to be distributed through lines of credit to community micro lenders. Under another initiative, the 10,000 Small Businesses program, Goldman Sachs announced a $20 million partnership to help entrepreneurs in Detroit by providing access to education, financial and business support services.

21st Century Education

Ensuring that Michigan’s education system is indeed a 21st century system that reflects the needs of this technology age. This includes:

• Encouraging schools to consider a voluntary program in which they would extend classes year-round, rather than interrupting student learning with a three-month summer break. It can take weeks for many children to recover the information they learned prior to leaving for the traditional summer vacation, which delays the learning of new and urged further action.

• Providing a uniform definition of “truancy” to schools across the state. Doing so will result in greater consistency and will provide educators, human service providers, judges and police with ample opportunities to customize assistance to families so that the number of truants can be reduced.

 • Implementing recommendations of the Michigan Council for Educator Effectiveness.The council recommended a fair and rigorous means to evaluate the skills of teachers using a combination of observed classroom practice and measured student growth.

• Making Michigan a leader in promoting STEM programs in schools and colleges. Jobs are robust in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. Michigan must do a better job of aligning education with economic trends and inevitabilities.  

Quality of Life

Improving the quality of life in our communities, as well as for seniors, and residents with special needs. The governor said:

• Michigan should become a “no wait state” for seniors who qualify for home-delivered meals and in-home services. Nearly 4,500 seniors are not receiving the in-home services – including home-delivered meals – that they need. In Southeastern Michigan, half of the people qualifying for services must wait six months or more to receive services. The governor will propose additional funding in his recommended budget to eliminate this waiting list. The governor also announced that he will prepare a special message outlining opportunities to reinvent the way in which Michigan provides services to seniors.

• Lawmakers should pass pending bills that provide consumer protections for seniors.

• Adopting recommendations of the Mental Health and Wellness Report will help people with mental illness, substance abuse disorders or developmental disabilities to lead more independent lives. Recommendations include developing a Pure Michigan marketing strategy to highlight opportunities for families living with disabilities, and having Michigan join the “Spread the Word to End the Word” movement, which seeks to rid our vocabulary of derogatory terms regarding people dealing with mental illness.

• Michigan should enact laws that provide school safety drill recommendations, and encourage schools to report on completion of the drills to the state. Snyder will propose funding in the upcoming budget for school safety initiatives.

 • The quality of life for nearly half-a-million Michiganders will be enhanced now that the federal government has approved the Healthy Michigan Plan. By improving access to affordable health care coverage, Healthy Michigan also will reduce uncompensated care that shifts costs onto businesses and taxpayers.

• Significant progress is being made in reducing the crime rates in Pontiac, Detroit, Saginaw and Flint. While the rates remain unacceptably high, it’s clear that the state and local partnership under the Secure Cities Initiative is having an impact. In the first 10 months of 2013, violent crimes declined by 30 percent in Flint; 16 percent in Saginaw; 7 percent in Detroit and 6.5 percent in Pontiac.

 Protecting Our Environment and Natural Resources

Ensuring the protection of Michigan’s natural resources while allowing for their wise use. The governor called for:

• Increasing the state’s effort to combat invasive species, which cause environmental damage, as well as economic harm in excess of $4 billion annually across the Great Lakes region. The governor will recommend funding in the new fiscal year to implement a program aimed at preventing the introduction and spread of both aquatic and terrestrial invasive species. The program was developed through a partnership with the DNR, Department of Environmental Quality and Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

 • Using the information gathered last year through numerous public forums to develop a framework for the comprehensive energy policy that Michigan needs. In December 2013, Snyder used that information to set the stage for critical discussions on
Michigan’s energy needs as they relate to adaptability, affordability and reliability.

 Good Government

Continuing with the reinvention of state government so that it is customer-focused and delivers the best possible service. The governor proposed that:

• Michigan should join other states in passing a resolution that supports a Federal Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Unlike Michigan, Washington still lacks the fiscal discipline to balance its budget, which hampers the nation’s economic turnaround. Passing this amendment sends a strong signal to Washington that fiscal responsibility is needed for the
good of working families and all taxpayers, as well as future generations of Americans.

• The state enhance its “early warning system” to assist communities and schools facing financial instability. Creating strong financial intervention teams, housed within the departments of Treasury and Education, will allow for earlier intervention strategies. This is in the best interests of children and taxpayers.

• While continuing to be fiscally responsible in the short and long term, it is appropriate to provide some tax relief to hard-working families. Michigan has come a long way in three years. The state’s fiscal health has improved due to the tough but necessary decisions that have been made. The governor will make an FY 15 budget recommendation that eases the burden on low- and middle-income families so that they can continue to share in Michigan’s comeback.

• All partners continue working together to address the tough problems confronting Detroit that were 60 years in the making, and achieving resolutions for the benefit of our largest city’s residents.

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