Snyder touts business program, Democrats say Mich. worse off on eve of address

Snyder prepares to deliver State of State address Wednesday


LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Rick Snyder's State of the State address will kick off a debate over how to raise money for badly needed repairs to Michigan's roads and bridges.
Few would disagree that the state's transportation infrastructure needs fixing.

Government and private reports estimate that around $1.5 billion is needed each year to fill potholes and complete other maintenance work. And that doesn't include funds for improvements.

Snyder called last year for replacing the 19-cents-per-gallon tax on gasoline with a tax on the wholesale price of fuel.

The Legislature took no action. He says he'll make more specific proposals in his speech Wednesday.

Governor's talking points:

  • The big one will be the roads and how to fix them.

    In the past the governor has suggested increasing vehicle registration fees to do it

  • Changing Blue Cross Blue Shield to a mutual non-profit insurance company.

  • Addressing the financial crisis in Detroit.

Read: Economist: Mich. in 4th year of recovery.

Mike Nystrom of the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association says poor roads are hurting the state's economy. He says strong leadership is needed to win support for new funding.

On the eve of the address Snyder announced Ford Motor, Chrysler and several auto suppliers are supporting the Pure Michigan Business Connect program, which encourages Michigan companies to do business with each other. Snyder's office announced the automakers' participation while touring Detroit's auto show.

Watch: Gov. Snyder tours 2013 NAIAS.

The program involves the Michigan Economic Development Corp., state agencies and businesses.

It offers networking opportunities for purchasers and suppliers of goods and capital.

Snyder says having Ford and Chrysler on board will open the way for Michigan-based auto suppliers to make millions of dollars' worth of additional sales every year.

Tony Brown is group vice president of global purchasing for Ford.

He says the program particularly offers opportunities for doing more business with suppliers owned by minorities, women and veterans.

With their own announcement Tuesday, Democratic leaders in the state House said things have gotten worse in Michigan under Gov. Rick Snyder.

Read: Snyder had mixed results with last State of State.

Rep. Tim Greimel of Auburn Hills criticized the Republican governor's performance as Snyder prepared to deliver his State of the State address Wednesday.

During a news conference at the state Capitol in Lansing, Greimel said Michigan's unemployment rate is still higher than the national average despite new policies that Snyder promised would improve the business climate and create jobs.

Greimel says Snyder and the Republican-controlled Legislature have harmed education by cutting funding for schools while giving corporations $2 billion in tax breaks.

He also criticizes the Republican leaders for rushing a so-called "right-to-work" law to enactment last month without public hearings.

The United Auto Workers and other labor unions say they are calling on members to protest before and during Gov. Rick Snyder's third State of the State address in Lansing.

The address will begin at 7 p.m. and ClickOnDetroit.com will be live streaming it.