Standing before a packed room of business, political and community leaders at the Detroit Athletic Club (DAC), Gov. Rick Snyder remained steadfast in his resolve in dealing with the Flint water crisis and the Detroit Public Schools (DPS) financial crisis.
These two issues, which are defining moments in his administration, were the two hot topics at the most recent Pancakes and Politics.
When asked in an online poll taken among attendees whether or not the governor is doing enough to handle the Flint crisis, the results were evenly split – 50/50. These results vary slightly from the most recent March EPIC-MRA poll among 600 likely statewide voters. This poll indicated a 75% negative rating for the handling of this particular crisis.
He reiterated he will not resign and repeatedly stated his focus is on the future, while developing specific plans to address both Flint and DPS crises.
However, the governor sought to provide confidence and reassurance to those in attendance in the state’s largest city. He said The Flint and DPS crises are “two huge challenges and now it’s time to put solutions in place,” he said, emphasizing he is “committed to solving the problem.” He strongly encouraged collaboration by everyone to address these challenges and said “let’s do it together.”
Snyder touted Michigan as the “comeback state” with more than 400,000 jobs created over the last few years, unemployment rate dropping to its lowest level in 15 years, a rebounding auto and housing market and strong tourism. Even so, he called the past six months a “humbling experience” and acknowledged the Flint water crisis caused collateral damage to the state’s image, but indicated it has not affected Michigan’s business attraction efforts.
With respect to DPS, he says there needs to be a longer-term solution and the focus should be directed on providing education solutions for the city’s children. Snyder and Mayor Duggan are working together and the governor said he wants this to be the last emergency manager. Ultimately, a bi-partisan package being offered to the House in Lansing would provide a legislative solution, he says, urging collective support for its passage. The state needs to “transition out of it,” he said, and a plan for success needs to be developed.
Regarding future focus for his administration, an audience poll indicated the number one priority should be education (57%), infrastructure (33%) and jobs (11%).
While the governor, known as one tough nerd, sounded confident while speaking to the region’s business leaders. He touted Michigan as the “comeback state” with more than 400,000 jobs created over the last few years, unemployment rate dropping to its lowest level in 15 years, a rebounding auto and housing market and strong tourism. Still, it’s clear there’s much work to be done.