Governor Snyder did not spend a lot of time talking about the environment in last night’s State of the State Address. In an hour-long speech that covered a wide array of topics, he spent only 17 seconds directly referring to the environment, not including a regulatory joke involving raised toilet seats and outhouses that came at the expense of the Department of Environmental Quality (one of the liveliest moments of the night).
“We need to be more strategic by focusing on the intersection between job creation, affordability, science, and sustainability,” said Snyder toward the end of the speech. “We need to continue Michigan’s leadership in protecting the great lakes, one of the world’s greatest natural assets.”
The environmental high point of the speech was a promise to deliver a special message sometime this fall focusing on the intersection of energy and the environment. Also of note was a call for transportation infrastructure improvements including a regional transit system for Southeast Michigan and an improved Bus Rapid Transport system “that are some 40 years overdue.” No specifics where given on where the money would come from, but increasing the stage gas tax would pump money into the cities and would be a great opportunity to improve roads, bridges, and public transportation while encouraging oil conservation.
The governor did give a perfunctory nod to the state’s agricultural industry, noting that Michigan is the second most agriculturally diverse state in the country and calling agricultural workers “the unsung heroes” of the Michigan’s economy.
The governor’s speech was delivered in a tone and style that that perfectly reflects his approach to governing and the priorities of his administration – and it’s the priorities that we’re worried about. The speech was given in outline format with a dearth of specifics that reflect the governor’s desire for the state to move forward with legislative, bureaucratic, and private partners, as much as it is a political savvy move to keep the administration’s cards close to its chest.
One aspect of the speech we feel all Michiganders should support is the call for a positive culture attitude shift as reflected in his oft-quoted catch phrase, “Relentless, positive action.” The governor is right when he says “There are still too many people who are too negative, too divisive and too many who think Michigan’s best days are behind us.” This attitude appears to be slowly catching on and is a welcome continuation of Granholm’s equally positive approach to governing and Michigan’s future.