West Central Michigan
The QDMA REACH Program
REACH is an aggressive national education and outreach program from the Quality Deer Management Association that benefits hunters, landowners and deer managers in several ways. REACH is the acronym for Research, Educate, Advocate, Certify and Hunt.
Dave Bopp, President
Jim Blaszak, Vice President:
Snyder delivers 3rd State of the State
Governor: 'It's time to do something' about roads
Gov. Rick Snyder delivered his third State of the State address before a joint session of the Michigan Legislature Wednesday evening.
"Once a year, we do the State of the State. It's a moment to stop and pause. It's a moment to stop and reflect on how we can use relentless positive action to reinvent the State of Michigan," he said to open the address.
Overall, Snyder's speech was upbeat and he was more impassioned than is typical as he referenced Michigan's strengthening economy.
He said that Michigan has the "sixth fastest-growing economy in the nation" and highlighted that "Michigan is a growing state again in population" for the first time in years.
But Snyder made the quest for more transportation revenue the centerpiece of his annual address.
Read: Bullet points from the State of the State courtesy the Office of the Governor (pdf)
Snyder said the legislature must act now to finance road repair, suggesting the investment of $12 billion over the next 10 years to prevent increased costs if Michigan's ailing roads and bridges are allowed to deteriorate further.
He proposed boosting vehicle license fees and tax motor fuels at the wholesale level to raise billions of dollars for repairs. He bluntly referred to those suggestions as "user fees."
Legislators from both sides of the aisle are considering the best way to pay for those repairs. Raising taxes to fix roads will be a tough sell, but Political Reporter Rick Albin said that higher registration fees may be more palatable once the administration breaks down the numbers.
Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer also told 24 Hour News 8 before the speech that improving infrastructure must be a priority in the coming year.
"We do have consensus that we all think we need to fix our roads. We need to make an investment in infrastructure," Whitmer said. "The question is, how do we do that?"
She said she would be skeptical of a new tax on individuals rather than on businesses, however.
"What I would like him to say is what is plan is to help the people of Michigan," said Whitmer, criticizing the governor for what she said was previously taking "corporate bottom lines over us, the people."
Snyder also mentioned a divisive December lame duck session and talked about healing Lansing.
"I wish it hadn't happened. Sometimes it does happen. What I would say to all of you is I hope we can work together," Snyder said.
He urged bi-partisanship and pledged to work hard to find common ground.
"We're hired by the people of the State of Michigan and our role is to give them great customer service," the governor said.
Snyder has also revived his support for overhauling Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan after vetoing legislation last month over an anti-abortion rider. Snyder repeated his call for easing regulations on the big insurer and requiring it to pay taxes after it transforms from a charitable trust to a customer-owned nonprofit.
He vetoed the measure in late December because of abortion language added to secure support from Republican legislators.
Supporters say the change is necessary to level the playing field for the industry and prepare for the federal health care law. Critics say it's unnecessary deregulation that short-shrifts the elderly.
Blue Cross Vice President Andrew Hetzel told the Associated Press he's encouraged Snyder is making the overhaul a priority.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.