Gov. Snyder Talks Energy, Education and Trump

“We made it a real team effort to reinvent Michigan.”

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is reflecting on his six years in office, with two more to go, addressing the state’s challenges.

Kevin Essebaggers sat down with the governor Wednesday in his office to ask about a wide range of issues.

It came at a very busy time for his administration.

“They sent me roughly 240 bills,” says Snyder.

A lot of year-end decisions for Governor Snyder, including regulating energy in the state, a bill he signed right before our meeting.

He says it will replace the capacity of retiring coal fired plants, keep energy bills reasonable and even encourage renewable sources and conservation.

“The best energy you’ve ever used in terms of price is the energy you never had to use. So this will encourage us to be more efficient, and work hard on that, that’s a big plus,” explains Snyder.

But there are concerns about an ore mine exemption in the law that Cloverland Electric Cooperative says could make electricity costs spike in the U.P.

“We’ve actually done more work in the U.P. on energy than we have in the rest of the state,” says Snyder. “We’re on a path to see the U.P. be far better off than before, because it was at serious risk, a real concern and I still am concerned until we get that generation capacity built and we get a couple other things in place. But we’ve made huge progress.”

The governor is still considering whether to sign a bill increasing the speed limit on rural highways and some stretches of freeway.

“I want to get the opinions of MSP and MDOT about the engineering of our roads, and were they built safe enough to handle those higher speeds, and deciding if it’s appropriate or not. I know some people could be excited by the concept, but let’s do it safely if we’re going to do it,” says Snyder.

On education, and what the state spends on it he says, “We have significant funding for schools, and we’ve increased it a billion dollars a year in five years. So we’ve seen significant increases.”

When asked what advice he has for President-elect Donald Trump, Snyder says, “Really reach out to the people you’re going to be working with, in my case state employees. There are a lot of wonderful public servants and that’s not something you always appreciate in the private sector. I would encourage him to look at it the same way.”

We also asked Snyder if he thought Trump would be good for Michigan.

“I hope it’s good. I hope it’s good for the whole country,” says Snyder. “One thing that is exciting in my view is we just finished this infrastructure commission report. It’s well done. One of President-elect Trump’s priorities is infrastructure. So I’ve actually contacted his transition team to say ‘Hey, we’ve just finished this report, you’ve got it as a priority, let’s see if you want to talk to the folks’. The framework is one that could be used by the entire nation.”

Along with improving infrastructure, including Flint’s water system, the governor, known for his support of skilled trades and technical education, says it will remain a priority in 2017 and the rest of his term. In Northern Michigan, Snyder says there more to be done too.

“There are some important things in Northern Michigan that we can really emphasize. In terms of growth opportunities, this whole issue of broadband. I think there’s an opportunity to improve connectivity,” explains Snyder. “If you get connected, you can do business anywhere in the world. It’s a huge economic engine, but a great quality of life thing. Cause if you had a chance to be up on the Lake Superior shoreline or Lake Michigan shoreline and be able to work and live, that’s an awesome answer.”

The governor also talked about the Pure Michigan campaign, and the controversial Line 5 pipeline through the Straits of Mackinac.

You can watch the full interview here.