Gov. Snyder has a simple message for Michigan voters: “Yes on 1, no on the rest.”
Asked why it’s important to vote yes on Proposal 1, which would authorize the governor to appoint an emergency manager upon the state’s finding of a financial emergency, Snyder said during an interview with the Chronicle editorial board that the old emergency manager law — PA 72 — had two major issues that needed improvement.
“One was an early warning system, and I think that’s worked quite effectively,” Snyder said. “To say that communities, if they run into these circumstances, they need to report that they’re having financial difficulty, and they need to provide more and better information.”
He said that’s a case where the state has been able to work with communities.
“They could do some sort of deficit reduction plan or we could work with them in a positive, constructive way, because that’s just a good thing,” Snyder added. “I don’t see any downside and I hope that doesn’t create any controversy.”
The second issue is the larger one, according to Snyder.
“Now, when you get into a circumstance of having a true emergency, the idea was wouldn’t it be better to have a manager who could come in and do their work and get back out, rather than having them stay in an emergency status for an extended period of time?” he asked.
Snyder added that we should be clear that one aspect of PA 72 that doesn’t get talked about much is that it allowed for consent agreements.
As an example, he said if the state hadn’t been able to do a consent agreement with Detroit, the only other option was a manager.
He noted that a consent agreement gave Mayor Bing more powers.
Snyder also said the state is getting close to being able to leave two or three communities which are now under an emergency manager — Ecorse, Pontiac and Benton Harbor — and that discussions concerning Ecorse revolve around how the state can work with the community on having certain provisions that the city’s going to do good budgeting after the emergency manager is gone.
Asked for his primary objection to Proposal 2, which would amend the state constitution regarding collective bargaining, Snyder called it a massive overreach in our constitution.
“Here’s a proposal that, if it passed, could wipe out several other provisions of the constitution, and could wipe out upwards of 170 different laws,” he said.
Snyder, who described Michigan as the comeback state, asked what happens if 170 laws — some of which go back to the 1960s — may or may not be on the books any longer.
He said some of these laws are well-established principles of collective bargaining and other relationships.
“Theoretically, if it was able to be bargained, that law would disappear,” he said, asking how many lawsuits would there be in attempts to determine how many of those 170 laws remain valid.
“Let alone the constitutional provisions,” he said. “The way I figure it, you’ve got one to two years of chaos over saying ‘is the law there are not?’ Then to the degree the laws are wiped off the books, you have probably six months to a year longer of negotiations going on.”
He also suggested these could be perpetual negotiations. This could lead to a $1 billion per year in additional costs for taxpayers.
Snyder believes the passage of Proposal 2 could grind our economic comeback to a halt.
“It’s devastating,” he said.
He also believes Proposal 2 would derail Detroit’s recovery, and that bankruptcy would pretty much be the only option remaining.
Snyder said that unlike chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, Chapter 9 doesn’t have a lot of legal precedent. He also said cases involving Chapter 9 haven’t been done in a structured fashion.
“It’s like Vallejo, California, and some of these have been real messes. Huge messes,” he said. “That’s when you worry about what you are left with.”
He said that’s why he’s strong on “yes on 1.”
As for Proposal 3, which would amend the constitution to establish a standard for renewable energy, Snyder addressed an ad that shows a map of states that had enacted similar provisions. He said every one of them had done so by statute.
“We have a statute to do 10 percent by 2015, so we should be lit up (on the map),” he said. “Not one of them has done it in their constitution because it’s terrible public policy.”
He also said no other state has put standards for renewable energy into its constitution, and that doing so is like trying to build a house on a foundation of sand.
“We don’t know what federal energy policy is,” he said. “If you don’t know what federal energy policy is, why would you put it in your constitution? It’s a terrible idea.”
He also said a lot of people are trying to make money off of the issue, and that there’s nothing about energy efficiency. It’s only about adding capacity.
Regarding Proposal 4, which would amend the constitution to establish the Michigan quality home care council and provide collective bargaining for in-home care workers, Snyder called it a misnomer.
“Home health care is really important, but most of the home health care being done under these provisions are by other family members.”
He also said this would be a way cipher $6 million off to a union.
Proposal 5 would amend the state constitution to limit the enactment of new taxes by state government. Snyder called it a really bad idea, but said it sounds appealing to people on the face of it.
The problem, according to Snyder, is that Proposal 5 addresses any increase in the tax rate or base. He said we’d still have Michigan business tax and that Proposal 5 derails tax reform and tax reductions. He also said it alows up to 13 senators to control everything, giving more power to special interests.
Regarding Proposal 6, which would amend the state constitution regarding construction of international bridges and tunnels, Snyder said opponents of a second bridge across the Detroit River want to stop or dramatically delay job creation.
“If you think about it, we have some legal arguments to say it may not even apply, but what they would have gained was at least another year or two delay by the court suits that come out of this,” he said. “If you think about it, shouldn’t we create the jobs now? The sooner we get going on this the better.”
Snyder also asked when anyone last voted for a bridge.
“We’ve never voted for a bridge, and the only reason we’re voting for this bridge is you’ve got one special interest spending $10 to $20 million on misleading ads,” Snyder said, adding that the only accurate things in the anti-bridge ads are that there’s a bridge and it’s in Michigan.
He also said if Proposal 6 passes, it could derail infrastructure development because it could theoretically apply to any new bridge anywhere in the state.
Snyder wants the Ambassador Bridge to be viable, adding that the Detroit-Windsor crossing has 40 percent more traffic than the Buffalo-Niagara Falls border crossing, which has three viable bridges.
With so many proposals seeking to amend the constitution, Snyder would like there to be statutes addressing better transparency, disclosure and regulation of paid petition circulators.
He supports the idea of grassroots efforts to do petitions, but added that it was always viewed as the citizen volunteer trying to get signatures in support of a particular issue rather than a special interest hiring people to get signatures supporting their vested interests.
“The worst part is that it’s a per signature bounty,” Snyder said, asking whether people circulating petitions should identify themselves and indicating whether they get paid.
“Is per-bounty right, or should they get paid per hour or some other basis?” he asked.
Snyder said making issues constitutional amendments takes away the significance of the legislature, adding that that’s California today.
“You just take it to the ballot in California,” he said.
Snyder believes the reinvention of Michigan, in large part, triggered special interests that don’t like where the state is going.
“But my goal isn’t to make special interests happy, it’s to take care of the citizens of Michigan,” he said. “And I think we’re doing a pretty good job of that.”