Blog: Michigan's 2012 Ballot Initiatives


Date: Oct. 2, 2012

In November 2012, Michigan voters will decide six ballot proposals that will impact the state's future. Governor Rick Snyder is speaking out on those proposals and their consequences:

PROPOSAL ONE - Michigan's Emergency Manager Law

Proposal One is all about Michigan's ability to get control of the financial crisis facing a number of our cities and school districts.

Millions of dollars in debt are piling up in some of our local governments and school districts. Bills that aren't being paid. City lights that can't be turned on. Police and fire departments that can't do their jobs. Children at risk of not having school. All of this can have a disastrous impact.

We have a tool to fix these problems. It's called the emergency manager law. Public Act 4. This law creates an early warning system to help communities avoid a financial emergency, or if they are in emergency, it empowers an emergency manager with more ability to complete their work so a community can get back on track faster. It helps us keep cities running. It lets us keep kids in school.

If Proposal One is approved, Public Act 4 will remain in effect. Michigan would continue to have its emergency manager law. And we could continue taking positive action to keep our cities and schools moving forward.

PROPOSAL TWO - The "Back in Time" Amendment

Proposal Two - the so-called "Protect Our Jobs" initiative - would cause serious harm to Michigan and make it harder for us to create more and better jobs.

I am a supporter of collective bargaining, but Proposal Two would amend our constitution to change the way bargaining would work in our state. It could lead to unlimited wage increases and early retirements with lavish pensions - all at the taxpayers' expense. It rolls back Michigan labor laws made over the last 30 or 40 years. This proposal should be called "the Back in Time amendment." It would seriously harm Michigan's ability to keep moving forward.

Since I've taken office, Michigan has gone a long way toward getting control of deficits and out-of-control spending. Many of our cities and school districts that were buried under millions of dollars in debt have charted a path to a brighter future.

But Proposal Two would roll back important reforms that have gotten spending under control. These reforms are needed to make sure that schools can keep functioning, and that fire and police departments can keep protecting us.

We're well on our way to reinventing Michigan. Why would we go back in time and turn away from the reforms that are helping us create more and better jobs?

PROPOSAL THREE - 25-by-25 Mandates

Proposal Three would be bad for Michigan consumers, Michigan families, and Michigan businesses.

It creates a new mandate that forces Michigan to have 25 percent of its electricity come from renewable energy by 2025, and it would cost billions to implement, raise electric bills and make Michigan businesses less competitive. That means fewer jobs for our workers.

Current law sets a goal of generating 10 percent of electricity from renewable sources such as wind, solar, hydro and biomass by 2015. This is a standard that's already difficult to meet. Proposal Three would set the bar even higher - and we would be the only state to have such a mandate in our constitution.

Yes, renewable energy is important to Michigan's future. But our state already has a comprehensive energy law that makes sure we have reliable, clean and affordable energy for Michigan families and businesses for the future.

Mandates in the Michigan constitution that we can't afford to achieve are bad for our economy, bad for our families, bad for businesses and bad for workers.

PROPOSAL FOUR - Forced Unionization

Proposal Four, the "Keep Home Care a Safe Choice" initiative would amend our constitution to force Michigan's 60,000 home healthcare aides to join a labor union. Those workers would be forced to have union dues withheld, whether they want to or not. That just isn't right for Michigan.

I signed legislation preventing this from happening, but Proposal Four would override it while also inserting bad policy into our constitution.

Home care providers have already had more than $30 million taken from their paychecks. They don't need to suffer any more than they already have.

This proposal does little to help those in our state who need home health care, and it certainly doesn't help our dedicated healthcare providers.

Some organizations will benefit from Proposal Four because of the forced memberships. And what's more, Proposal Four creates a slippery slope - anyone else who receives a direct or indirect payment from the government may be involuntarily enlisted into a union, as well.

Improving health care in Michigan is important, and I'm taking steps in partnership with the legislature, health care providers and insurers to improve wellness in Michigan. Proposal Four, though, is not the right way to improve health care and will be bad medicine for the people of Michigan.

PROPOSAL FIVE - The Two-Thirds Amendment

Proposal Five amends our state Constitution to change the rules of the game for how we make laws in our state, requiring a two-thirds vote on legislation that could help us reinvent Michigan. It's a bad idea for our state.

It requires that any future increases of tax rate or tax base be approved by either a two-thirds majority of the legislature or a statewide vote.

On the face of it, this concept may sound appealing; but the problem is the damage that the two-thirds amendment would likely have on tax reforms that make our system simpler, fairer, and are net tax reductions.

Here's one example. If the two-thirds amendment would have been in place a few years ago, we couldn't have repealed the job-killing Michigan Business Tax. We couldn't have made the reforms we needed to scrap it and put a better system in place. We couldn't have taken the steps we did to improve Michigan's business climate to bring more and better jobs to our state.

What's does this proposal mean for you and me? It means that special interest groups and even a small group of lawmakers could stop our ability to make the necessary policy changes we need in Michigan. It means that it would be more difficult for us to pay for our schools, fix our roads, or make sure that our law enforcement officers have the tools they need to protect us. Also, it will be viewed as negatively by bond ratings agencies which could raise our interest costs and make us look less attractive to job creators.

The two-thirds amendment causes more problems than it solves, and it's a bad idea for Michigan.

PROPOSAL SIX - A Billionaire's Special Interest Monopoly Standing in the Way

If there's one proposal we've heard a lot about, it's Proposal Six.

On the surface, the issue is about the New International Trade Crossing - the new bridge to Canada. But if you dig deeper, you'll see that Proposal Six would have even more far-reaching consequences.

While the proposal is intended to protect one company's monopoly on truck crossings between Detroit and Canada, it was sloppily written and jeopardizes ANY bridge under construction today that won't be completed by January 1, 2012, or any bridge built thereafter.

We need the new bridge to Canada - and modern infrastructure - if we want to reinvent Michigan and bring more and better jobs to our state.

Thanks to an iron-clad agreement, we can build a new bridge to Canada without any cost to Michigan taxpayers. The project will help industries all across our state grow stronger which would lead to important long term job creation. In the short term, it will help create 10,000 new construction jobs.

The new bridge will be a great benefit for our state, and we shouldn't let one billionaire and his special interest monopoly get in the way.