Last Thursday, Jan. 16, Gov. Rick Snyder delivered, for the fourth time, the annual State of the State address to lawmakers, Michigan Supreme Court justices and other government functionaries.
The State of the State address was designed as a tool that executive officials could use to update citizens on the current issues facing the state and the direction they envision the state heading over the course of the next year.
Most of the time, however, the State of the State address is used as a political tool, much like the State of the Union the president gives every year. Lawmakers rise and give thunderous partisan applause to certain combinations of words strung together and then repeated often.
The 2014 State of the State address given by Gov. Snyder is no different. The tagline for the speech was “Michigan is the comeback state,” as Synder tried to build up his achievements over the last four years.
I think the reality is Gov. Snyder wants to “come back” to the governor’s office next year.
The governor is up for reelection this year and he tried to say all of the right things. His ideas cover small business, school safety, mental health, immigration and tax-relief. Somewhere in the back of my mind the presidential alarm bells are going off, but I’ll ignore them for the time being.
But the governor forgot to mention one very, very important issue. It’s an issue that affects all 9.9 million residents of Michigan in a systemic fashion. Detroit.
After searching the transcript of the governor’s speech, I found Detroit was only mentioned eight times. In thanking the various elected officials from Detroit for showing up, Snyder incidentally said “Detroit” five times, lauded a marginal decrease in crime in Detroit and mentioned the Detroit International Auto Show once.
That leaves just one mention of the word “Detroit” to cover the serious issue of how the state-mandated emergency management of Detroit is panning out. Do you want to know what the Governor said?
“I’m not going to dwell on that here tonight, other than to say let’s get it resolved this year.” Not going to dwell on it?
How is Detroit not the absolute biggest issue of your governorship? It affects the economic health of the entire state and continues to be the butt of jokes nationwide. Is it really such a non-issue to your administration that you didn’t even include it in the most important speech you will deliver this year? Isn’t it sad that the health of an American flagship city has now been relegated to “let’s just talk about that later?”
Instead of supporting Detroit and working as hard as we can to build our state back up, the Republican-led legislature wastes time slapping each other on the backs by busting unions, limiting access to legal abortions, attempting to enact voter ID requirements, and continued constitutionally-mandated discrimination in the form of marriage inequality.
Instead of pursuing the revitalization of Detroit as a central tenet of his political story, Gov. Synder is fumbling what could be an immense legacy. If someone can bring Detroit out of the shadows and reestablish it with the foundations of a great American city, they will be revered as a hero of Detroit and of Michigan, as the future of both entities are inextricably linked.
For now, though, too many people are expecting the downfall of Detroit. The governor needed to take a stand in his State of the State address to help catalyze more positivity and encourage forward thinking in respect to Detroit.