A standing ovation. That’s what Gov. Rick Snyder got when he asked the Mackinac Policy Conference audience members to let him know if they support Detroit.
Snyder opened his 30-minute address talking about the funding for and restructuring of Detroit that’s provided for in a package of bills. The legislation passed the House last week with broad bi-partisan support and awaits action in the Senate.
“It surprised people that people got on board. It was wonderful to see the breadth of support,” the governor said. He pointed out that representatives from throughout the state “the Upper Peninsula, the Lake Michigan shoreline” voted in favor of the legislation that provides $195 million for Detroit pension funding and requires oversight for the city’s future operation and financing.
“We like to talk about the bankruptcy being over the last year,” Snyder said. “This is our opportunity for a solution for 50, 60 years of problems.”
Snyder said he looks forward to changing the typical conversations people have about Detroit. “They’ll be bringing up things they saw on the national news. In many cases, those things aren’t even right, but that’s the way the discussion goes,” he said.
The governor praised Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan for his presentation at the conference yesterday. An enthusiastic and energetic Duggan gave updates about his administration’s progress on blight removal, street light repairs and additions, increased bus services and other improvements.
“He was marketing Detroit but he was marketing reality, he was marketing facts,” Snyder said. “I need each and every one of you to sign up to be am ambassador for Michigan.”
Following his prepared remarks, WWJ radio’s Vickie Thomas asked her own and moderated audience questions. She started off asking the governor about how he felt now about appointing an emergency manager for Detroit, a move that has been met with some opposition.
“It was the right decision. It was not an easy decision, folks. These were tough calls,” Snyder said. “I wasn’t looking at bankruptcy when I started looking at building a brighter future for Detroit.”
He talked about campaigning in Detroit, holding town hall meetings and meeting with the faith-based community and returned to the topic of emergency management.
“The reason they strengthened the law was to make it so that someone like Kevyn Orr could come in, do their job and get out and have strong, good leadership and have the city continue on instead of having it drag out over time. Let’s get the job done. Let’s do the tough thing, and then let’s get sustainable, solid leadership in a financial situation that’s sustainable.”
-By WDET’s Sandra Svoboda
@WDETSandra and firstname.lastname@example.org