2017-10-07 / Columnists

Michigan Politics

Governor Rick Snyder Receives a Wall Street Rave
By George Weeks

Term-limited Governor Rick Snyder, as he approaches his final year with new racial issues and lingering problems in such places as Flint and the Mackinac Straits, has just received a rave from The Wall Street Journal.

In its lead September 26 editorial headlined “The Michigan Comeback Story,” The Wall Street Journal said:

“As Washington begins to debate tax reform in earnest, states can provide constructive policy lessons for better and sometimes worse—see the fiscal crack-ups in Connecticut and Illinois. Michigan, on the other hand, offers a case study in the progrowth potential of business tax reform.”

The Wall Street Journal said former Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm “was a progressive specialist in using the tax code to politically allocate capital, which depressed and distorted business investment. Between 2002 and 2007, Michigan was the only state to experience zero economic growth.”

As Granholm’s Republican successor, wrote The Wall Street Journal, Snyder “recharged growth with tax and regulatory reforms. While Michigan’s GDP has been expanding at roughly the national average since 2011, it has led the Great Lakes region.”

However, Michigan “slipped into recession in 2003 as manufacturing contracted, which unions blamed on China and free-trade agreements. But misguided policies were arguably bigger contributors to Michigan’s slump.

“Between 2002 and 2007, Michigan’s manufacturing grew at a third of the rate of the Great Lakes region. During this period, motor vehicle and parts manufacturing in Indiana increased five times as much as in Michigan, and The Wall Street Journal reports that in Michigan, capital investment and hiring have increased sharply.

“In 2011,” it said, “Michigan added jobs for the first time in six years, and it has since led the Great Lakes region in manufacturing growth.

“Unemployment has fallen below the average to 3.9%, even as the labor-force participation rate has ticked up. The jobless rate is still 5% in Illinois and 5.4% in Ohio, and labor-force participation has declined in both states.

There are more positive citations in The Wall Street Journal about Snyder.

But it should be noted that not all is positive on the Snyder front. He has, for example, the lingering issues of his administration’s handling of the Flint water crisis, and what to do about the Line 5 pipeline across the Mackinac Straits.

George Weeks, a member of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame, for 22 years was political columnist for The Detroit News and previously with UPI as Lansing bureau chief and foreign editor in Washington. His Michigan Politics column is syndicated by Superior Features.

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