As good as constitutional protections for home health care, renewable energy and collective bargaining may sound, Gov. Rick Snyder says ballot proposals two through six are not what they seem and could be "economically devastating" if passed by voters Nov. 6.
Snyder, along with Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, took his "Yes on One, No on the Rest" bus tour to Sterling Heights Thursday to meet with voters and clarify the governor's position on the six proposals due to face Michiganders at the polls next week.
"We’re on a path to continue progress and I do not want to see us get derailed," Snyder said. "(Ballot proposals 2-6) could be economically devastating. They could stop the reinvention of Michigan, this comeback. That’s why I thought it was important to get out and talk to you and get your questions and thoughts."
Yes on Proposal 1 – Emergency Manager Law
In Snyder’s view, the law has been effective to date, as three of the eight Michigan jurisdictions and school districts with emergency managers are now looking to transition back to traditional operations.
Ecorse Emergency Financial Manager Joyce Parker was on hand to discuss the success of emergency management in her community specifically.
Coming onto the job, Parker said Ecorse’s deficit was around $14.6 million – $4 million more than the city’s annual budget – and several city officials had been indicted for bribery and corruption. Parker said the city has now balanced its budget, eliminated the deficit and put best practices in place for a transition out of emergency management.
Responding to a question from a voter about the damper am EM puts on democracy, Snyder said residents should remember that every EM works for the governor, who in turn works for the voters. “I take that responsibility to my heart. (Democracy) is not gone, it just may be at a different level.”
No on Proposal 2 – Collective Bargaining
Were Proposal 2 to pass, Snyder said it could potentially wipe out whole sections of the Michigan Constitution and up to 170 laws, including workplace reforms passed decades ago.
“This isn’t about wages and hours. That’s collective bargaining and we’re doing that. This proposal would wipe out other parts of the Michigan Constitution (and result in) massive litigation over what the Constitution says,” which in turn could lead to what Snyder believes would be legal chaos and billions in additional expenses for taxpayers.
In response to voter concerns about recent laws that seem to restrict collective bargaining, Snyder said these reforms, specifically in the area of education and retirement, were passed not to penalize teachers, but to help them be more effective and to create sustainable funding for the state’s retirement system.
No on Proposal 3 – Renewable Energy
Snyder doesn't dispute that renewable energy is a good idea, but says a constitutional amendment is not the way to go about setting energy goals for the state.
“We have a law in Michigan that says we’re going to get to 10 percent by 2015. Why wouldn’t we wait until 2014 of 2015 and go through the legislative process to put in a new goal?”
Snyder said it would be a “fatal flaw” to add this proposal to the Constitution, as there is no way to know what federal energy standards will be in the future and this proposal only mentions capacity, and gives no attention to increasing energy efficiency.
No on Proposal 4 – Quality Home Care
Despite what the ads suggest, Snyder said this proposal is less about protecting home health care than it is about securing millions of dollars for a special interest group.
If passed, the proposal would amend the state constitution to allow in-home care workers to bargain collectively with the Michigan Quality Home Care Council, represented exclusively by the Service Employees International Union.
The proposal would classify these in-home care providers as government employees for the purposes of bargaining because they accept money through a Medicaid program. However, this would include family members who provide care for their elder relatives as well as hired providers.
Snyder said this practice would allow millions in state and federal home health care aid to be funneled out of families' pockets.
No on Proposal 5 – Limit New State Taxes
Like renewable energy and quality health care, Snyder said this proposal does not do what it seems to promise at face value.
“This is not a proposal that is simply about a two-thirds vote for any tax increase,” Snyder said. “The proposal says any increase in rate or base of taxation."
Had this proposal been in the Constitution in 2010, Snyder said the Michigan Business Tax would still be in place, because it was technically an increase in rate or base of taxation.
“It would derail a lot of good tax reforms and probably a lot of good tax reductions,” he added. “It would give too much power to special interests, who would only agree to something if they get something.”
No on Proposal 6 – Bridge to Canada
Snyder said ads that support this proposal are perhaps the most misleading of all the initiatives on the ballot, both claiming that Michigan taxpayer dollars will be used to fund the bridge and that Chinese steel will build it.
Canadian Consulate General Roy Norton joined Snyder in Sterling Heights to clarify once and for all, “Canada is paying for this bridge.”
“Let me raise my right hand and solemnly swear for anyone who is paying attention that the government of Canada will pay for this bridge and guarantee all liability and the State of Michigan will face no cost and no liability,” Norton added.
As to why Canada has chosen to fund the bridge, Norton said it is a matter of economics and time. The aging Ambassador Bridge won’t last forever and thousands of jobs in Canada and Michigan are co-dependent on trade between the nations.
“We don’t normally engage in providing free infrastructure to developed countries, but there frankly was no choice,” Norton said. “The bridge is 83 years old. We faced a choice – to do nothing or pay for it – and we found doing nothing less attractive as a country than paying for it.”