Gov. Rick Snyder on Michigan’s continuing progress

Jeremy Hobson Feb 21, 2012

Jeremy Hobson: Now let’s get to the governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder. He is a Republican who has endorsed Mitt Romney. He took over the state from Democrat Jennifer Granholm last year.

Governor Snyder, Good morning.

Rick Snyder: Good morning. Happy to be with you.

Hobson: Well how would you describe the economic recovery that’s going on in Michigan? Your unemployment rate has dropped from about 14 percent to around 9 percent in just a couple of years.

Snyder: Yeah, things are going well in Michigan. We’re actually recovering faster than the rest of the country, which is great. We started from farther back. Last year we created about 80,000 private sector jobs and they’re relatively well-paying jobs.

Hobson: As the rest of the country looks at that and what’s happening in Michigan, I think the general sense is none of this would have been happening without the auto industry bailout. Do you agree with that?

Snyder: Well, the auto industry’s made a strong comeback, but we’ve had a number of other industries; I would say it’s broad-based in terms of sectors. Our agriculture industry’s been doing well for a decade, they continue to do well. Tourism: We’re a great state for that, and that’s done well. So the good part is, it’s not just the auto industry, which is great to see them doing well, but it’s fairly broad-based.

Hobson: Do you think they should have been bailed out?

Snyder: It wasn’t your normal bankruptcy situation. If both of those companies would have gone under, technically it might have taken down the whole supply chain, including Ford. Could there have been other options? Yeah, but I’m not going to second-guess. Let’s just move forward and be happy we have good jobs here.

Hobson: You came from the private sector as Mitt Romney did, one of the candidates for president. Where have those private sector skills come in handy when it comes to running a government, and where has your private sector experience not been useful?

Snyder: Well it’s been very helpful in a couple regards. One is is that I very much focus on results as opposed to simply spending money. One of the differences, I would say, is that working with the legislature and the need to have partnerships in that regard. In this world, you have to build broader coalitions, but it’s going well. Because our whole focus here is about being positive, finding common ground and solutions and not being divisive, and that formula’s working great in Michigan right now.

Hobson: There’s a big tax debate, as you know, going in this country right now, and I want to ask you about your plans for taxes in Michigan. You want to have a 6 percent flat corporate tax and do away with all the business tax credits that exist. Why do you think that that’s going to be a more sophisticated tax code than the one that we have now?

Snyder: It’s a better answer. I started my career, I was a tax partner at one of the big accounting firms, so I’ve been on the private sector side of this. And what business wants is they want certainty, they want simple, fair and efficient. And if you at it from the government side, having all kinds of credits and all those kinds of deals doesn’t really help matters. All it does is create a short-term advantage for someone, and long-term, someone else is paying for that.

Hobson: Governor, we’re spending the week in Michigan. If there’s one thing that you think the rest of the country should learn from this state, what is it?

Snyder: I call it “relentless positive action.” And it’s all about we don’t blame anyone, we don’t take credit for anything — we’re simply here to solve problems. It’s about Michiganders coming together to work and win together. And I think we are a good role model for the rest of the country and I encourage Washington in particular to adopt this approach.

Hobson: Gov. Rick Snyder, Republican of Michigan. Thanks so much for talking with us.

Snyder: It’s great to be with you, thank you.

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