ESCANABA - Residents and officials visited Bay College Tuesday morning for a virtual town hall meeting to discuss ballot proposals with Gov. Rick Snyder. The Escanaba branch of the teleconference was moderated by state Rep. Ed McBroom.
"There's a ton of misleading information out there, and I was concerned that people aren't getting the facts and I thought it was important to go out and talk to people and get questions and dialogue about these things," said Snyder via videofeed from Northern Michigan University.
Snyder only supports Proposal 1, the referendum which if passed would allow the governor to continue appointing emergency managers for communities and school districts facing financial emergency. Emergency managers are allowed to act in place of local government officials.
"We literally have a bus wrap that says 'Yes on One, No on the rest,'" said Snyder.
Snyder viewed Proposal 2 - which would amend the state constitution regarding collective bargaining for public and private employees through labor unions - as the most damaging to Michigan.
"That, by far, would be the most devastating from a statewide perspective and for this part of the state," said Snyder.
When asked if Proposal 2 would allow police and fire departments to strike, Snyder note there was language in the proposal which would limit strikes, however, it was still a possibility.
Snyder, who admitted he was a proponent of collective bargaining, views the proposal as damaging because it alters provisions already in the state constitution. He also claimed the proposal could cost the state billions of dollars while existing laws are challenged.
"It would also potentially wipe out up to 170 different laws, and that's what I mean, this is a massive overreach," said Snyder. "When I say 170 laws, these are laws not just passed since I was governor. We're talking laws that go back to the 1960s."
Proposal 3 would amend the state constitution to require that 25 percent of Michigan's retail electricity be derived from renewable energy sources by 2025. The proposal defines renewable energy sources as solar, wind, biomass and hydropower.
"The people that wrote this proposal didn't mention energy efficiency at all because, again, a number of the people backing it don't care about energy efficiency. They want us to spend more money," said Snyder.
The state's current Renewable Portfolio Standard requires that 10 percent of the state's energy must come from renewable sources by 2015. The policy is not part of the state's constitution.
"We don't have a clue as to what could happen with federal policy and how messed up we could be, versus a statute that we can adjust and then go according to what happens with the rest of the country," said Snyder, noting there currently is no federal energy policy.
Proposal 4 would amend the constitution to establish the Michigan Quality Home Care Council and provide collective bargaining for in-home care workers. The MQHCC would provide training for in-home health care workers, create a registry of workers who pass background checks, and provide financial services to patients to manage the cost of in-home care.
According to Snyder, the proposal is backed by a union that is receiving $6 million annually in dues from home health care workers, who were usually related in some way to their patients and were receiving some state funding.
"We didn't think that was good public policy. In fact, the legislature and I worked together to pass a law to say this should be discontinued," said Snyder, who added the union started the proposal to get the money they were no longer receiving.
A proposal to amend the state constitution to limit the enactment of new taxes by the state government is also on the ballot.
Proposal 5 would require that a two-thirds majority vote of the State House and the State Senate, or a statewide vote of the people at the November election, in order for the state to impose new or additional taxes on taxpayers, expand the tax base, or increase the rate of taxation.
"What it really does is mess up tax reform, and, actually, tax cuts in many possible situations," said Snyder.
Snyder also believes the proposal would also give too much power to special interest groups. "Two-thirds would really empower special interests to be able to say they can control outcomes to embed things, to keep things in the tax code for them or to be able to say they'll only agree if they get something special for them, overriding what the majority of people would want," he said.
According to the ballot, Proposal 6 would require the approval of the majority of voters at a statewide election and in each municipality where "new international bridges or tunnels for motor vehicles" are proposed before actions can be taken on planning or construction.
Supporters of the proposal frequently claim that the State of Michigan will pay for the New International Trade Crossing, the proposed bridge between Detroit and Winsor, Canada. However, the bridge will be built with Canadian money and will be paid back by tolls. After the bridge is paid off, Michigan will receive half of the money received from bridge tolls.
"If this was to pass, this proposal, there are some strong legal arguments to say that we already have an agreement and we can move forward with the New International Trade Crossing, but what I would tell you is it's not 100 percent certain we could win those legal arguments," said Snyder.
Besides delaying the project, if the proposal passes it will be more difficult for the state to construct bridges and tunnels.
According to Snyder there are too many proposals on the Nov. 6 ballot.
He claims that this is because special interests have paid between $100 million and $150 million to back their proposals.
"We shouldn't let money decide our future. We should let Michiganders decide our future because we care about one another," said Snyder.