Traverse City Record-Eagle

January 17, 2013

3 things to know about State of State


---- — 1. ROADS AND BRIDGES: Snyder says generating new funding for Michigan's ailing roads and bridges will be a key issue. Studies say the state needs to spend $1.5 billion a year to fix potholes and perform other maintenance. The Republican governor's proposals for higher taxes and vehicle registration fees gained little traction in the GOP-controlled House and Senate last year. Snyder said he'll make the case that raising money for transportation is a long-term investment that will strengthen the economy. But conservative groups can be expected to fight any effort to boost taxes.

2. UNFINISHED BUSINESS: Some big-ticket items from Snyder's 2012 speech didn't make it through the Legislature, and it's uncertain whether he'll raise them again. After failing to win approval of a Detroit-Windsor bridge, he cut a deal with Canada to build it and successfully campaigned against a ballot measure designed to halt the new government-backed project. Lawmakers also rejected the governor's proposal for a state-run online marketplace where people and businesses could shop for health insurance. To meet requirements of the federal health care law, Snyder is working on an exchange to be run predominantly by the federal government. His proposals last year for new policies on campaign finance, lobbying and ethics went nowhere.

3. WOOING DEMOCRATS: Democrats will be looking for peace offerings. They remain deeply angry at Snyder, who they say uses moderate-sounding words to mask harshly conservative policies. They're particularly upset over his handling of right-to-work legislation, which he embraced during the December lame-duck session and signed quickly after the GOP-led Legislature rushed it to enactment. The law makes it illegal to require non-union workers to pay fees to unions that negotiate their contracts. House Democratic leader Tim Greimel says his party is distrustful of Snyder, who probably will need Democrats' help to raise money for transportation.