BY JOHN FLESHER
The Associated Press
LANSING — A Democratic legislative leader said Tuesday that Michigan is going downhill under Republican Gov. Rick Snyder as middle-class families, schools and seniors pay the price for hefty tax breaks awarded to corporations the past two years.
"The people of Michigan have heard too many of the governor's promises and seen too many of them broken," said Rep. Tim Greimel of Auburn Hills, the newly elected House Democratic caucus leader.
As Snyder prepared to deliver his annual State of the State address on Wednesday, Greimel sought to pre-empt him with a Capitol news conference billed as "The Real State of Our State." He said the governor and his GOP allies in the Legislature had not delivered on promises to improve the state's economy.
While corporations were given $2 billion in tax cuts under Snyder, the $600-per-child deduction was removed and a new levy was placed on seniors' retirement incomes, Greimel said. During the recent lame-duck session, the Legislature also voted to eliminate the industrial personal property tax, which generates hundreds of millions a year for cities and townships. Meanwhile, school funding was slashed.
Republicans promised such policies would "generate a hiring boom," Greimel said. "That simply hasn't happened."
The Associated Press left messages seeking comment from Snyder's office.
Michigan's unemployment rate in November, the latest figure available, was 8.9 percent — above the 7.7 percent national figure. Michigan's jobless rate has hovered above the national average for many years, as the auto industry's struggles hammered the state economy even before the 2008 recession.
Greimel also repeated Democratic criticism of Snyder and the GOP legislative leadership for rushing several contentious bills to enactment during the December lame-duck session, including a "right-to-work" bill that made it illegal to require non-union workers to pay union fees.
Also approved were tighter regulation of abortion clinics and a new version of a law that could lead to the appointment of emergency managers in financially troubled cities.
Republicans said at the time that their approach was in the long-term best interest of Michigan's economy and taxpayers.