To say that Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s State of the State Address last night was a whitewash of the reality we face in our state is an understatement. He avoided any serious discussion about his plans to remedy the slow motion infrastructure catastrophe that is in visible progress. He never mentioned the tens of thousands of out of work Michiganders who, though a now well-documented computer error, were fined exorbitant fines for non-existent fraud. And he basically took credit for improvements in Michigan resulting from Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act and for the improving national economy.
What most blew me away was how little time he spent talking about his biggest failure: the Flint water crisis. After spending 70 seconds exalting Michigan’s cows and dairy industry (“When you see those cows, give ’em a shout out…”), he spent only 95 seconds talking about the ongoing tragedy in Flint, the poisoning of their drinking water with the powerful neurotoxin lead by the Emergency Managers he appointed, a human-made disaster compounded by the ineptitude of the head of the Department of Environmental Quality tasked with protecting our state’s drinking water.
Throw in the time he spent talking about a hog processing company that slaughters 10,000 pigs a day and livestock in Michigan got more time in Snyder’s State of the State Address than Flint did.
More shocking, he bragged about the replacement of “over 600” lead service lines. That represents just FOUR PERCENT of the lead service lines that were compromised when his Emergency Managers switched Flint’s water source from safe water delivered by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to the corrosive water of the Flint River. Only FOUR PERCENT replaced and it’s been one year and 110 ten days since he first admitted there was a problem in Flint and many more than that since Flint residents began to be poisoned by their tap water.
His short shrift of the Flint water crisis is an insult to every resident in Flint, a blatant dodging of his continued failure to make any sort of significant progress in resolving this outrage.
Meanwhile, we have a new state legislature that is even more conservative and pro-business meaning that we’ll see no movement in rescinding the massive corporate tax giveaways that are hobbling our state for the precious revenues we need to fix our roads, bridges, schools, and other essential services.
Gov. Snyder wants us all to believe that Michigan is resurging. The reality for far to many Michiganders is that it’s status quo. Jobs are still hard to come by in the most hard-hit communities. Our schools, woefully underfunded thanks to anti-public school Republicans, continue their downward slide. And our workers continue to have less and less of a voice in their futures as Republicans work to destroy the unions that represent their interests by fighting for better wages, working conditions, and benefits.
We have much work to do in this state. Stay engaged, continue to put pressure on state legislators. And, above all, do NOT let Gov. Snyder get away with avoiding his responsibility for what he and his Republican colleagues in the state legislature are doing to our once proud state.
UPDATE: Our friends at Progress Michigan came up with this fine meme to commemorate Gov. Snyder’s new-found love of cows: