Michigan State of the State Address 2011

LANSING, Michigan – Jan. 19 – Following is the prepared text of Gov. Rick Snyder's (R) 2011 state of the state address:

Thank you. Please be seated. Thank you. Well, thank your for such a fabulous welcome. It’s exciting to be with you tonight. Good evening.

Let me start by thanking several individuals and groups. First of all I want to thank Speaker Bolger. I want to thank Lt. Gov. Calley and Senate Majority Leader Richardville. Also I want to extend thanks to Senate Democratic leader Whitmer, House Democratic Leader Hamel, the members of the Supreme Court, our Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, our Attorney General Schuette, the cabinet — the ladies and gentlemen of the Legislature, thank you for having me. Our fellow public servants and a special thanks to the Michigan men and women serving our country in the armed forces. Thank you. And I have one more thank you to add. Last but not least a group of people that I’m very happy to be with here tonight and I appreciate the opportunity to have them join me — my family.

In my inaugural address, I spoke about the reinvention of Michigan and the need for the culture of our state to change. Tonight, I’m here to outline a series of tangible steps needed in the next year to drive the reinvention of Michigan. Tonight, I will present a report card on the state of the state to establish a benchmark we’ll collectively work towards improving in the coming years. Tonight, I will present a road map of initiatives that our administration will emphasize during the course of the year. Tonight, I will ask for the participation from all of us. The path to a bright future is based on all of us contributing to the solution. Tonight, I will start with specifics on the topic of economic development. Simply put, job one is jobs.

All of us know we’re in a crisis unmatched in the 60 plus years of our state. This is a crisis that we’ll solve by working together; by adopting an attitude of relentless positive action. We have a multitude of problems that we’ll solve in a systematic fashion through honesty, hard work and teamwork. The solution will take time. There are no quick fixes or magic solutions. We have a government sector with an unsustainable financial model. This mortgaged our children’s future with over 54 billion dollars in pension and benefit liabilities. We have far too many young people who are not leaving school with the education they need to succeed in the future. We have an economic climate — it has left too many people unemployed, underemployed or forced to leave the state. Particularly our young people. We will address these unaddressed issues and solve them and not put them off as we have in the past. And to do that, we will focus on substance rather than form. We will not dwell on the past or the depth of our problems. The focus will be on agreed-on action, implementation, measuring results and continuous improvement We will not continue the fighting that resulted in rhetoric and paralysis. It is time to solve problems.

Let me start with a new concept. We are creating a means by which to actually measure Michigan’s progress. I find it curious that we’ve had State of the State addresses for decades. Yet I don’t know of one where we actually had a report card to gauge our success. Government tends to avoid measures and metrics, since it could lead to criticism. It’s also true for many of us, many people don’t like to be graded — in fact I can think of three young people in the front that don’t like that concept. It is time for that attitude to disappear. True success is based on achieving real results for real people. We’re going to have tough, hard measurements. Our achievements or lack of progress will be evident, so tonight I’m presenting the Michigan Dashboard.

I will present a summary of this dashboard in every State of the State address I give. It is composed of 21 different measures in five key areas. The dashboard’s designed to give you information at a glance. You don’t need to be an economist or scientist to understand it. It includes Michigan’s current standing in particular categories, such as unemployment. You’ll also see whether that trend is improving in terms of moving in a positive or negative direction. And where feasible, it will include Michigan’s national rank. The measurable areas are economic growth, health and education, value for government, quality of life and public safety. These areas align with how we’ve organized the executive branch into the group executive structure. This structure will ensure close, effective cooperation and coordination between inter-related program areas. We’ll continue this process of realigning our government to move from one that’s based on functions to one that’s based on results. Also we’ll be developing dashboards for state government performance in all our state departments. We will measure and measure, and measure and that is how we will succeed.

The Michigan Dashboard is ready to go. I see some have summaries already. For those at home, please visit it www.michigan.gov/midashboard and tell us what you think. Now let me share with you our proposed road map for addressing major topics throughout the year. It’s a very aggressive agenda of action but I believe it is the right agenda.

As I said in the inaugural address, we need to make the old unbelievable the new achievable. First, the number one item has to be the need for more and better jobs. So economic development is the focus for tonight. Second, by mid-February, we will present a budget to the Legislature. This is one month ahead of the required deadline. We will present a two-year budget. The first is the legally required budget, the second’s for planning purposes. Having a two-year budget will force tough decisions. We will not play kick the can down the road to the next year. We will request a budget that’s based on outcomes and results and moves away from traditional line items.

The old approach let the bureaucracy and special interests control the agenda too much. We need to insure the citizens are getting value for money. We need to show results for real people. Our budget will include the elimination of the job-killing Michigan business tax and replace that with a 6%... Thank you. I’ve been impressed by the strong leadership in our new Legislature. In particular, I look forward to working with Sen. Kahn, Rep. Moss on the budget and Sen. Brandenburg and Rep. Gilbert on tax reform issues. Given your commitment to show results for our citizens, I will ask that we strive to complete the budget process by May 31. And I’m still standing here safely.

Third, as part of our 182 day initiative, we will follow up the State of the State address in a February budget message with a series of messages to the Legislature on key issues. We will present a special message on government reform to the Legislature in March. Government reform needs to happen at all levels from townships to cities, from counties to the state, to school districts as well. We need to positively encourage our local jurisdictions, both municipal and school, to move to service consolidation and better deliver value for money. We will provide better services, for less money. To encourage not only service sharing, but best management practices, we’ll ask that revenue sharing be redone with a significant positive incentive for jurisdictions that adopt best practice.

We will present a special message on education to the Legislature in April. As I said earlier, we must do more to help students achieve academic success. We’ve been spending money without delivering the results to give our young people a bright future. It is time that we view our educational system which runs from pre-natal to lifelong learning. It’s time to start talking about B-20 instead of just K-12. We need to establish a system that focuses on real achievement for all of our children. We cannot leave children behind without the tools for success in their adult lives, but we also need to encourage better and faster opportunities for children that can go farther and faster in our system.

We will also task our executive group on people with vigorously pursuing improvements in our health care system in terms of cost, quality and access. We must emphasize wellness and preventative care. All of our citizens need access to preventative care from primary care providers. It’s critical to prevent routine ailments from becoming severe conditions requiring emergency room treatments. Our dashboard also makes the case for much better prenatal care. We will look to build a system that encourages all of us to have an annual physical to reduce obesity and encourage a healthier, active lifestyle in our state. I can see we have a group more encouraged about dieting than others.

Now let us turn to specific acts for action. Government’s role is to create an environment that allows people to succeed. To reinvent our state, all of us must participate. There are three paths I’ll use during the course of our administration to talk about those needs. First, actions the executive branch can take. Second, the steps we are requesting, in partnership with the Legislature, and third, how all our citizens, our businesses and our communities can participate.

Now let me start with econ development and other urgent items. We created an executive group based on executive growth headed by Mike Finney. Mike built Ann Arbor Spark into one of the nation’s most effective and most successful economic development organizations. This executive group includes the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (the MEDC), the Department of Transportation, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority. Much of our workforce activities in the Department of Labor and Economic Growth. By bridging the gap between state government’s investment and economic development, transportation and housing, we’ve positioned government to help revitalize our communities. If we are to have a stronger Michigan, we need to have a better MEDC first. In the past, the MEDC and regional economic groups too often overlapped in terms of field activities.

We have a number of very strong regional groups that are capable of taking the lead in the field. The MEDC will recalibrate its efforts and become a better partner with these regional groups to enhance economic gardening, talent enhancement, and support services to companies. The MEDC staff will literally co-locate with local partners to ensure seamless delivery of services to client companies and the optimal use of tools. The MEDC will serve as a clearinghouse – a best practice center – and a problem solver across the state. It will continue to represent the state internationally with support from local partners. Second, the MEDC will become an advocate of open source economic development. This means we’ll leverage successful programs and practices to benefit all regions of the state. For example, since Oakland County ’s Automation Alley is best in class for international trade, we will engage them to maximize the potential to other regions. And because the Right Place in Grand Rapids is the best at international business attraction, we’ll leverage their capabilities to benefit the entire state. We need to focus on being the best across the state and not dwelling on who claims credit. Third, we need to put more emphasis on economic gardening as opposed to hunting. For those unfamiliar with economic gardening, it means we will focus first, and foremost, on building businesses that are already here in the state.

For start-ups and young businesses, we’ll work with our regional partners on continuing to develop and improve our entrepreneurial networking, business acceleration services, incubators, pre-seed funds and entrepreneurial education will be a priority. We will create a statewide network of talent coordinators who are focused on connecting entrepreneurs, innovators, management talent and job seekers with established companies. Using the open source economic development model, we will follow the success of Ann Arbor Spark’s talent enhancement program. We will identify economic gardening activities as a result of helping companies post their positions on a talent portal. And we will scale this to the entire state and make the job posting available to every company that expands, locates, or starts a business in our state. And I want to offer special thanks to the Small Business Association of Michigan for its aggressive leadership in this area.

Next, we need to do a much better job with connecting our workforce development efforts with our community colleges and economic development organizations. Instead of simply putting people in training courses, we will focus on looking at future employment trends and developing clear paths for people in need to get the skills they need to find and be successful in real jobs.

On the topic of regulatory reform, we will review existing and proposed regulations to create a better environment for economic success while maintaining our duty to protect our citizens and businesses. We will partner with the Michigan Chamber of Commerce to stop the effort to establish mandatory and overreaching regulations on ergonomic standards that have been discussed for the past few years.

On our urban challenges, we are working in a partnership to create a new office in the executive branch. The governor’s office has traditionally had a Detroit office, but we will do more. Through this partnership, we will create an Office of Urban Initiatives to proactively address issues in Detroit and the rest of the urban areas. In addition to Detroit, we will look to establish offices in Grand Rapids and in the Flint and Saginaw areas.

We must also strongly support our rural areas. They’ve helped Michigan through some of its toughest economic times. So we’ve added a member to the MEDC board with extensive experience in the credit need of farmers. And I’ve already signed an executive order adding rural development to the responsibilities of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to address this topic. We will establish an exciting new initiative to encourage immigrants with advanced college degrees to come to Michigan to live and work. I’ve asked the Department of Civil Rights to work with the MEDC in this effort. We need to be a place that openly encourages innovators and entrepreneurs to come to our state. The evidence is clear that advance college degree immigrants make a tremendous difference in creating a positive economic activity environment that benefits us all. To give you some additional background: For example: About half of the startups in Silicon Valley have a foreign national as a founder. Immigration made us a great state and country. It is time we embrace this concept as a way to speed our reinvention.

In addition to budget and tax reform, there are several items that I’m asking our partners in the legislature, led by Sen. Majority Leader Richardville, Minority Leader Whitmer, Speaker Bolger and Minority Leader Hamel, to …

It is an honor to be in this chamber tonight. I believe we have a tremendous opportunity to serve as role models on how to solve problems and succeed in this new era. First, vibrant communities and schools are essential to Michigan ’s future. Unfortunately many face unprecedented financial challenges due to past and current economic conditions. My administration will present to you changes to Public Act 72 — the Emergency Financial Manager’s Act. The current act does not allow for intervention in a school district early enough in the process. Also we must have better clarity over the powers of the financial managers. These strengthened provisions would apply to both municipalities and schools. I ask for your early review and passage of this important legislation. Second, the scope of the 21st Century jobs fund is currently restricted to a limited list of eligible industries. This isn’t right. The role of government is to support success, not pick winners and losers. We’re asking the Legislature to remove the restrictions on what fields can be supported by this fund. Agriculture, information technology, among others, would greatly benefit from this opportunity. Third, we will propose the elimination or modification of antiquated laws. While some laws need updating, other laws are simply relics of a time past and need to be scrapped.

Michigan’s 1970 vintage item pricing law is exhibit A. Revitalizing our economy demands that we should weed out needless regulations that cost consumers and throw up barriers to competition. Michigan is only one of two states that requires almost every item on the store shelf to be individually labeled with a price tag. In today’s world of scanners, bar codes and automated inventory systems, we are simply placing an undue burden on retailers and consumers. A recent economic study that said requiring these stickers over other forms of marketing costs our economy over $2 billion a year. That’s no bargain. It’s bad for business, it’s bad for consumers. Let’s embrace technology that saves consumers time and money while still protecting them. Let’s make item pricing one law that’s out of stock. Fourth, we also need to support the families who produce and process our food -- the men and women of Michigan’s agricultural industry. These are the people who are leaders in weathering the economic storms of the past decade and continue to grow. We must better recognize agrculture’s importance to our economy. I ask you to join me in applauding our agricultural innovators.

Today I asked the Legislature to make an important step that will enable agriculture to thrive. In addition to making agricultural processing eligible for 21st Century Jobs Fund, I’m requesting that lawmakers strengthen the Michigan Agricultural Assurance program to make it a seal of assurance so that farmers who run environmentally sound operations can be protected from unnecessary regulations and frivolous lawsuits. Fifth, in our budget recommendations, we will include the funding of Pure Michigan, at an annual rate of $25 million. This program supports one of our strongest assets — our water resources and the treasures of the Great Lake and is an illustration of value for money. It is positive for our image and it is a positive return on our tax dollars.

Pure Michigan was ranked by Forbes magazine as one of the Top 10 tourism campaigns of all time. We have studies showing that for every dollar spent on Pure Michigan advertising results in more than $2 in tax revenue for the state. I asked the Legislature to recognize that positive return on investment and lend its full support. Sixth, I urge the prompt passage of a capital outlay bill that implements the recommendations of the Natural Resources Trust Fund. From the greatness of the land and the resourcefulness of the citizens of the Upper Peninsula to the unquestioned beauty and economic engine of the Great Lakes, natural resources and recreation have always been among our strongest areas. The Fund’s board of trustees has recommended 117 recreation and land acquisition projects totaling $100 million. These projects will positively impact every corner of our state, from Iron County in the Upper Peninsula, to Traverse City, to Luna Pier in Monroe County. Also included is a significant expansion of the William G. Milliken Park on the Detroit riverfront.

The seventh item is international trade. To achieve success in today’s world, it requires that we look beyond our borders. We must open ourselves to the promises and potential of the global marketplace. We must increase exports from Michigan farmers, manufacturers and entrepreneurs. Last year, Canada was the top market for our products. In 2009, Michigan did roughly $4 billion in trade with Canada . We also know that one out of every eight jobs in Detroit is in the export industry. In Grand Rapids, it’s one out of seven. We can point with pride to our Detroit, Port Huron and Sault Ste. Marie points of entry which handle over one-third of all U.S. trade to Canada. We are working hard on improving these crossings. With widened approaches to the international bridge and major improvements to ease the traffic flow at the Bluewater Bridge in Port Huron. But we’ve also witnessed how fragile the system is and how dependent our just in time deliveries are with the closure of Highway 402 in Sarnia on December 14. It shut down all trade across the Blue Water Bridge and caused major backups on the Ambassador bridge. Global demand for our ports of entry is expected to increase steadily with no signs of slowing. To satisfy growing demand, we must move forward towards building a bridge, a new bridge from Detroit to Windsor, The Detroit River International River Crossing.

Now I ask you to forget everything you heard in last year’s debate regarding the proposed Detroit River International Crossing. We will present a totally revamped and highly attractive economic development proposal including a recent agreement from Washington. Private sector investment will be used to build the bridge itself. Canada has generously offered $550 million for the construction of the U.S. portion of the road system to connect the bridge — part of the public-private partnership for the entire project. Their investment will be fully recouped from toll revenue. During a visit last week to Washington, … a unique agreement with the Federal Highway Adminstration to use the $550-million investment in our infrastructure towards the matching funds required for all federally funded highway projects across our state. And I assure you that Michigan taxpayers will not take on any debt related to this project. This project isn’t just a Detroit issue. Every farmer and manufacturer in our state can tell you why it’s important to have world trade. This new bridge will create jobs, strengthen our economy, help establish Michigan as a hub for global commerce. So let’s work together so this opportunity does not slip away.

Now let me turn to our how our citizens, community and businesses can join this effort. Let me share two success stories of what companies and universities are doing as role models for all of us. I want to recognize an exciting new initiative to attract young people to Detroit by the Henry Ford Health System, the Detroit Medical Center and Wayne State University. They are spearheading the 15x15 project, a coordinated effort to bring 15,000 young educated people to live in Midtown Detroit by the year 2015. Working with the Midtown Association and local foundations, the program will provide incentives such as loans for new homeowners and assistance to new renters. We hope this model will inspire others across Michigan to rebuild their urban cores.

I’m also pleased to announce that the University Research Corridor institutions, the University of Michigan, Wayne State University, and Michigan State University, are entering into a research partnership with Procter & Gamble company. In fact, we’re joined here tonight by Pat Hayes, who is associate director for Procter & Gamble. Pat will you stand up and give us a wave. It is P&G’s only second type of partnership along these lines. It’s groundbreaking. It’s a collaboration that will speed innovative ideas to the marketplace by simplifying the legal process communities and universities use to … research projects. It will also provide opportunities for Michigan students to gain firsthand exposure to large companies and the real business world, while exposing these companies to top talent and potential future employees. To show how organizations can help one another though, once this program is up and running at the URC institutions, it will be extended to all 215 public universities across our state.

Now behind every company, of course, are the innovative people. They are the ones who pour out their talent, their heart, their dreams and goals in pursuit of new endeavors. We are fortunate to have some outstanding examples of successful entrepreneurs with us this evening. I am pleased to start with Dr. Peter Littrup, founder of Delphinus Medical Technologies, Delphinus is a successful medical device company in Wayne County. It’s a spinout of Karmanos Cancer Institute. It is now building three-dimensional ultrasound imaging devices to help with breast cancer. It uses a comfortable and reliable new technology. The company’s an incubator tenant at the Michigan Life Sciences and Innovation Center. This company takes great pride in its life-saving work. It’s a great illustration of a Michigan home grown business at its best. We’re honored to have Dr. Littrup here with us tonight. Please join me in showing Dr. Littrup the appreciation he deserves. Please stand up.

Now one final entrepreneurial story comes right from the Lansing area. It’s a company, Liquid Web. It’s a growing IT data center company in Delta Township. It’s expanded to two major centers in the last five years. Liquid Web’s gone from a startup company in 1997, built by two young men, to a company that has 20,000 clients in 120 countries. Here’s one of the best parts. By taking advantage of state programs like Michigan Works, the company’s been hiring laid off workers and putting them through an innovative training program. So congratulations to our next two guests. We are pleased to have with us tonight Matthew Hill, the company’s CEO and Greg Hill, the company’s Secretary and Treasurer... you can make your dreams. Please stand up.

Now each of these stories have common threads running through them and reflects the amazing potential already at work in our state. In each case they tell a story about experience, teamwork, and aspiring leadership. That same commitment is what will propel our long term success. Businesses and organizations must have a relentless focus on their core missions. That helps all of us. You must challenge yourself to be an innovator in this process in dealing with others. Consider becoming the customer of a startup company. Try out some locally made products and services. Sometimes the difference between success and failure in a young company is that single customer. Let’s make our state the best in the country when it comes to supporting our own entrepreneurs.

All 10 million of us have a role to play. I’m asking each of you to join me in doing what you can to build a better Michigan . This can include volunteering in your community, becoming a mentor no matter how old you are or what your background is. There’s a big opportunity for you to make a difference. The simple truth is the reinvention of Michigan is just as much on what each citizen does as what me and my team do or what this Legislature does.

And what I’m asking is really quite simple. Let us each recommit our time, our talents, our passion to ourselves and the state we love. Together we can build a new Michigan for the new century. We can make the old unbelievable and the new achievable. And we can make the improbable the new exciting reality for our children and theirs. We can and indeed we must begin right now to build a Michigan where the next generation has the chance to live, to work, to play, to prosper. So let’s roll up our shirtsleeves and get to work. Thank you for this opportunity to speak to you tonight. God bless you and God bless the great state of Michigan.

All State of the State Addresses for Michigan :