What To Expect In Tonight’s State Of The State Address
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder will deliver his State of the State address tonight, and although he's likely to touch on major policy that was passed in 2015, it's expected that the two big controversies in the state will overshadow whatever positive outlook he had planned for the speech.
Flint's water crisis will likely be front and center. Snyder has been criticized heavily for how he's handled the problem with the Flint River's corrosion of lead pipes, and subsequent elevated levels of lead in the blood of Flint residents. The switch of water sources, from Detroit's water service to the Flint River, occurred as a cost-cutting move while the city was under control of an emergency manager appointed by Governor Snyder.
Citizens, politicians and celebrities around the country have been decrying the state's handling of the contaminated water, with some calling for Governor Snyder's resignation or even his arrest.
Snyder might face the Flint issue head on during the State of the State address, as a way of letting people know he's not brushing it under the rug. There is also speculation that the Governor might announce his intention to be more transparent, and release documents related to his knowledge and response to the Flint crisis, or possibly even call for the introduction of legislation to increase transparency in government.
Currently in Michigan, both the Governor and his staff are exempt from Freedom of Information Act requests, a portion of the law that draws heavy criticism.
Another topic expected to be addressed tonight is the issue of the Detroit Public Schools. The District is heavily in debt, and although Governor Snyder has proposed a $700 million plan to fix things, it has had at best a lukewarm reception.
Dozens of schools in the Detroit area have had to close in the past few weeks, with teachers calling in "sick" in what many describe as a form of protest against Snyder's plan.
If Governor Snyder can move beyond the current controversies facing his office and the state government, he will likely reflect on some of his victories in 2015. Snyder will likely reference the $1.2 billion road funding plan that passed the legislature in November, and possible other policies like the passing of a tax exemption for data centers.
Legislation signed by the Governor right before Christmas would give data centers sales and use tax exemptions through 2035, if they meet job creation goals. The purpose of the legislation was mainly to lure Nevada-based company Switch to the former Steelcase Pyramid location in Grand Rapids.
Whatever Snyder talks about, it will likely be observed very closely.