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Michigan’s ‘tough nerd’ faces tougher test
Governor-elect faces ‘the worst’
Bill Ballenger, the editor of Inside Michigan Politics, called the appointment of Mr. Dillon a “potential masterstroke” that shows the new governor is living up to his promise of inclusivity in Lansing. He said Mr. Snyder and Mr. Dillon offer bipartisan credibility to the wary private sector in the state.
Complicating Mr. Snyder’s way forward is the drying up of state aid that flowed under President Obama’s $814 billion economic stimulus package.
The state, Mr. Ballenger said, “has been lucky to have the Obama bucks the last couple of years, all of which they have squandered with nothing left over.” Mr. Snyder, as governor, will not seek another bailout to keep the state afloat.
“His whole theme is you don’t reinvent Michigan by saying we’ll need more money from Washington,” Mr. Ballenger said.
Added Ms. Duffy: “Frankly, I think these new governors are smart enough not to expect it.”
Finding the right fiscal equation to dig out of a financial hole, however, becomes harder. Many Republican governors pledged during the election not to raise new taxes and yet for many, their only other choice is to cut spending, which also creates a quandary.
Michigan, said Mr. Ballenger, has found itself in a “perpetual $1 to $2 billion hole every year because revenue has not kept pace with projected spending levels.”
The deficits leave Mr. Snyder, a former Gateway computer executive from Ann Arbor, with some hard choices, especially as he pushed his plan for billions of dollars in state tax cuts. His first budget will be due in March, and how it will be received is a major unknown.
“I think Snyder is well aware that people are expecting something new and exciting and different from him,” said Mr. Ballenger. “I think he’ll be probably his own severest critic in whether he’s measuring up.”
For now at least, worn-down Michiganders will likely be willing to give him a chance.
“Going in, he will have the most support in a bipartisan way that I have ever seen,” said Mr. Roberts.
Added Mr. Ballenger: “I think the electorate here is so disillusioned with state government and the kind of leadership we’ve had in the governor’s office and legislature in the past few years that they really want to try something new and different and dramatic. I think that’s how Snyder won the primary and the general election.
“Maybe it’s unrealistic to think that he can somehow accomplish the miracle that no one else has,” Mr. Ballenger cautioned. “Maybe it’s unfair. But you can hardly blame them.”
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