ESCANABA - Increasing jobs and building a future for children in Michigan was among the main messages conveyed by Gov. Rick Snyder during a town hall meeting at Bay College in Escanaba on Friday.
"The greatest asset in Michigan is the talent in our state," Snyder commented prior to addressing a variety of questions from an audience of more than 200 members of the public.
The governor stressed that Michigan is not good enough and needs to look for a better way to build for the future while also being positive. He called this effort "relentless positive action." There is no blame, no credit - but a common ground solution for all, he explained.
Gov. Rick Snyder addresses an audience of more than 200 people who attended a town hall meeting at Bay College Friday. Behind him are, from left, Sen. Tom Casperson, Bay College West Vice President Patrick Kennedy, and Rep. Ed McBroom. (Daily Press photo by Jenny Lancour)
Snyder said progress is being made and 2011 set the state's foundation for the future.
The Governor praised legislators like Sen. Tom Casperson and Rep. Ed McBroom - who accompanied him Friday - for passing 333 public acts and passing the fastest budget last year, while taking care of a $1.5 billion deficit.
"It was hard work to ask for sacrifice from people," Snyder said. "We are a role model for the rest of the country for being responsible," he added, citing an increase in jobs and a resulting decrease in unemployment.
"Let's focus on two goals - more and better jobs and a future for our kids," Snyder said, asking people to work together as a team for the state's future. "We're here to serve you. We're working harder to give better customer service."
After the meeting, Snyder said the individual person can contribute to relentless positive action by continuing to working together, giving great customer service, and being successful, while also being more proactive and positive.
Snyder also said the state needs to keep an eye on keeping people skilled. Workforce development includes creating talent at colleges, collaborating talent through the private sector, and connecting talent with jobs, he told those in attendance.
Questions fielded by the audience and addressed by the governor included the future of school funding. He said he hopes to increase funding for education but also asks districts to be accountable for student growth.
Speaking on the attorney general's request to hire 1,000 more police officers in the state using a budget surplus, Snyder said his public safety goals are to: increase law enforcement officers in the state; reform the criminal justice system to better coordinate police, court and technology; and prevent crime by focusing on jobs for youth and the unemployed.
"It's not just one answer: It's a comprehensive solution," Snyder said adding there also needs to be a focus on the fundamentally unsafe places in the state. Michigan has four of the most violent cities in the nation - Saginaw, Pontiac, Flint and Detroit, he said.
Regarding a recent law banning boar ranches, Snyder said he encourages legislators to come up with a better answer. He said he prefers to regulate the ranches rather than ban the wild hogs.
Other issues the governor touched on included help for senior citizens, natural resources license fee increases, sexual offender laws, prescription drug abuse, invasive species, transportation funding, the helmet law and integrating Medicare and Medicaid.
Snyder said he is in favor of building a new international bridge between Canada and Michigan.
"This is an easy decision to move forward with the project because it's about jobs," Snyder commented. The project is expected to create up to 10,000 construction jobs. Negotiations are underway with the federal government, where Canada would fund the project and it would not cost Michigan money, he said.
"There is no good reason not to go with the bridge project," he said. "We're (Michigan) two peninsulas. We need to connect with the rest of the world."