WXYZ-TV editorial/public affairs director Chuck Stokes talked about what's ahead in the Michigan state legislature and Governor Rick Snyder's final State of the State address.
Stokes talked with WKAR's Reginald Hardwick for the January 6-7, 2018 edition of "Current State." Stokes is also moderator and producer of "Spotlight on the News" which airs weekly on WXYZ-TV and WKAR-TV.
HARDWICK: "I understand education will be something they'll [legislators] will be focused on."
STOKES: "Well I think so because if you recall right at the end of last year, the governor was able to get his 'Pathways to Learning' legislation through one house of the legislature. Now its got to go over to the Senate and try and get it through there. Some say it will be a tougher fight but with victory in one house, you certainly want to take that momentum into the new year and let's say let's move forward, let's continue to try to move Michigan in the right direction in terms of talent and jobs and education. They very much see that as the future. The whole goal in terms of education was making Michigan a top ten state in ten years. A very ambitious goal but certainly something worth shooting for.
And then of course the taxes. Everybody is watching it with the bill that the President finally got through, his big victory at the end of his first year. He signed into law the new tax code. There's concern here in Michigan that taxes are going to raise for Michiganders. In particularly, if we don't make some adjustments in the tax code. They're afraid its going to eliminate some of the tax exemptions that we've had here before. But the legislature said there's a way to fix that."
HARDWICK: So this is an election year and Gov. Rick Snyder is term-limited. We have a big gubernatorial race. Does that put any sort of pressure on Gov. Snyder or Lt. Gov. Calley who is hoping to replace him but obviously has a challenge from Attorney General Bill Schuette and Gretchen Whitmer on the Democratic side.. to close up some legislature that they've tried to before?
STOKES: Well certainly the Snyder administration along with Calley, because he's clearly a part of that administration even though he's a candidate now, they're going to have their 'wish list'. And the Governor is going to want to end on as strong of a note as he can especially having gotten dealt with all the Flint stuff that's sort of overshadowing his years in office. He wants to end on a strong economic note. Now, what this year clearly does is makes him a 'lame duck' governor. So people realize that after this year, they don't have to deal with Rick Snyder anymore, his opponents as well as those who may be jockeying for his job as governor.
Lt. Gov. Brian Calley is in a sort of different position because he's clearly been a part of this administration for the last seven years. And will be in this final year. But he also has to now run on his record and be able to tell people 1) tout the achievements of the last seven years as the Snyder administraton sees it. But he also has to say what would a Calley administration bring and how might it be different than what you've seen over the last seven years? He has a lot of competition out there. and the first thing we're going to see is this spirited race on the Republican side with Bill Schuette, the Michigan Attorney General and others who are in the race. Do the Republicans bloody themselves up just in the primary? And they come out of that primary so whipped that its going to be easy pray for the Democrats. But you have a number of Democrats who've tossed their hat into the ring as well and the potential is there for them to do the same thing. It's a wide open field and incumbency will not be an issue here.
HARDWICK: What are you expecting from [Gov. Snyder's] last State of the State address?
STOKES: I think he's going to certainly talk about education as we've mentioned before. He's going to clearly talk about economics and making Michigan a prosperous state. We will hear the words 'relentless, positive action' at least once and probably more times than we can count on both hands.
He's very proud of the fact that he's had seven balanced budgets and that he never missed a mark on that. And he's going to want to do the same thing for his last year. You'll have the State of the State and right after that he'll present his budget. He has touted the fact that he's brought fiscal integrity and fiscal management to this state. And that's something you're going to hear him talk about as well."