Michigan Governor Proclaims: “THIS IS NOT WISCONSIN”

March 2, 2011

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder reaffirmed Tuesday that he’ll work with unions to solve Michigan’s financial problems, but did not back down from a budget plan critics say is too business-friendly.

Snyder drew applause from the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council when he said Michigan’s economy would bounce back with a positive, non-combative approach and “by stepping back to say this is not Wisconsin.”

His comment referred to that state’s battle over collective bargaining rights for its employees.

Snyder, who returned from a weekend at the National Governors’ Association meeting in Washington, said other governors expressed sympathy for his challenge of leading a state with the nation’s most prolonged economic downturn.

He said he told them Michigan is on a comeback.

“We don’t need sympathy. We’re going to come and get our act together and be a successful state,” he said.

Snyder has drawn praise from the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council for his support for a new bridge over the Detroit River.  Estimates suggest that it would create 10,000 construction-related jobs.  The Governor is also on record as supporting the building of new coal-fired power plants in Michigan, and expanding mining in the Upper Peninsula to create jobs.

Patrick Devlin, secretary-treasurer of the state building trades council, said many of his union’s members voted for Snyder, hoping for change in a state economy that hit the construction industry hard.

“He came to the table talking about jobs, and he’s been very consistent,” Devlin said. He said he’s encouraged that Snyder said he has no interest in bills to repeal the state prevailing wage law or to pass a right to work law.

“I think the governor wants to show labor has a voice in what’s going to happen in this state and be part of the solution,” Devlin said.

Building trades council President Patrick (Shorty) Gleason said many of his 125,000 members dislike Snyder’s proposal to tax pensions. But he said the plan to create jobs trumps those concerns.

“You can’t get bound up over single issues,” Gleason said.