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UPDATE: Governor Calls for Road Fixes, School Changes, Combined Local Services

In his 2012 State of the State speech, Snyder also proposes rapid bus lines for Metro Detroit commuters.

Gov. Rick Snyder spoke Wednesday night of upgrading Michigan roads, starting a Metro Detroit regional transit authority and helping cities and townships combine services.

Those are among the second-year policy priorities for "the reinvention of Michigan" he pushed during a one-hour State of the State address to legislators and a statewide broadcast audience. "We cannot afford to slow down," he declared.

Focusing on roads, Snyder urged the Legislature to start work on a 13-bill road package introduced last year and hold hearings about how to keep Michigan's aging roads from getting progressively worse. "The state cannot afford to neglect the health of our infrastructure," he said. "We are underfunding our road system by upward of $1.4 billion a year. Let's solve this."

One step Snyder suggested last year to finance road upgrading involves raising vehicle registration fees by an average of $120 per vehicle.

On Wednesday, the governor also proposed a regional authority called Bus Rapid Transit for Detroit and four surrounding counties, which would help qualify for federal grants to establish high-speed commuter lines serving Detroit, Oakland, Macomb, western Wayne and the Ann Arbor area. "It's 40 years overdue, he said. "I encourage your support."

The speech previews budget plans coming Feb. 9. With a surprise surplus of $457 million left from the last fiscal year, Snyder can expand initiatives and propose new ones. "We closed a large deficit," he said. "Now let us show real leadership in how to strategically invest and save for the future – not simply spend money because it's there."

He wants to use some of that money to help local communities finance joint programs to deliver services more efficiently. Though he didn't get specific, that could involve combing emergency services, public works and libraries. "The state's role is to help local jurisdictions solve their own problems," he explained. As summarized by The Detroit News, Snyder also called for:

  • Schools to expand opportunities for "cyber learning." He suggests that students  be able to take at least two computer-based classes each academic year.
  • A new Education Achievement Authority to take control of the bottom 5 percent of Michigan's worst-performing schools.
  • More frequent campaign finance disclosure filings by political candidates.

Snyder glanced at an official eight-section outline of his key points during the Capitol address.

As a follow-up, the Republican governor has an online town hall forum set for  6 p.m. Thursday that will be live-streamed here and at Rick Snyder For Michigan on Facebook. Questions can be submitted at the state's website.

In March, Snyder pledged, he'll deliver a special crime-reduction message to the Legislature. "While statewide crime is down," he noted Wednesday, "it is unacceptable that Saginaw, Flint, Detroit and Pontiac are among the nation’s top 10 cities in violent crime."

Ferndale_1986 January 19, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Well, I guess we could keep riding the rollercoaster, but why would we want to? Because it keeps government efficient and in check, preventing excesses in government spending and services. A natural self-correcting mechanism.
Joshua Raymond January 19, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Roger, your land use tax is an interesting idea, but I see a few issues. 1) A mansion on one acre of land would be taxed the same as a small house on the same property. A mansion on a half acre would pay less. 2) Failure to adjust taxes to the economy in a recession would lead to even more foreclosures and property values spiraling downward. 3) If the community's income level is going down, why should the government be immune? With all the faults of property taxes, sales taxes, and income taxes, at least they are somewhat proportional to wealth and keep government spending in line with the community's economic status.
Roger Gienapp January 19, 2012 at 07:04 PM
Joshua, you hit on the crux of a land use tax. The factor that impacts the cost of delivering services is the AREA that each use occupies and not what the value of a building is that sits on the land. A one acre single family zoned property costs more for the roads and sewers and water lines that border it, it costs more to drive a garbbage truck longer distances to pick up one house worth of trash, the allocation of fire stations, fire fighters and equipment is based on the distances they have to travel and the same is true for police patrols. Therefore the varriable, along with the specific land use , is the size of the lot and a Land use tax would assess a property on its use and the area it occupies. A simple way would be a cents per square foot "tax" regardless of what kind of house sits on it or if any house sits on it or not. The more of the city you use, the more it costs to bring services to you, the more you pay. The ups and downs of the economy have no impact on costs of services....they don't get cheaper just because your house is supposedly worth less at any given time. Likewise, the guy down tthe street who lives on the same sized lot you do but has a small cheap house worth less than yours shouldn't pay less for the same services or vice versa. It's the land USE plus the AREA of that use that determines cost.
mike smith January 26, 2012 at 02:27 AM
the last ten years were ran by Grandholm dont blame gov Snyder for this mess, just like everyone blamed Bush
mike smith February 10, 2012 at 02:54 AM
What do pensions have to with good gifted teachers? They can always open an IRA like the rest of us

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