The speech mostly dealt in generalities, which surprised some political observers who felt that some specifics would be announced on how to handle the state's current $1.5 billion budget deficit.
Some of the parts of the speech I found intriguing were:
- An office of urban affairs that will deal with the issues confronting several major urban centers in Michigan, including Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint, and Saginaw.
- Openly supporting the Detroit Riverfront International Crossing, a project that would create a joint- U.S. and Canada-owned bridge going spanning from Detroit to Windsor, Ontario. Currently, a high volume of international trade between the U.S. and Canada goes through the Ambassador Bridge-- despite the lofty name, it is actually a privately owned bridge, owned by local real-estate tycoon Manuel "Matty" Moroun, the CEO of CenTra, Inc. During the Jennifer Granholm administration planning for this second bridge was stalled due to several state politicians (mostly from the GOP) balking, not to mention Moroun's organization steamrolling ahead with trying to build their own second bridge-crossing right next to the Ambassador, despite protests from an assortment of Michigan authorities. Detroit journalist Darrell Dawsey comments on Mr. Moroun's unique status in Southeast Michigan: http://detroit.blogs.time.com/2010/02/19/the-billionaires-bridge-and-his-big-blighted-building/
- Snyder also called for Michigan to embrace immigration-- specifically, immigrants with advanced college degrees (and presumably in the science/physics realm), citing immigrant-run startup companies in Silicon Valley. On this particular issue, Snyder received polite applause, but most certainly did not get a standing ovation like virtually every other point he drove during the speech. Likely, the Legislature's Republicans, many of them new to state office (term limits left dozens of politicos as lame ducks last year), and several of them neo-con idealogues, want to keep up the backlash against immigrants in general, especially after reactionary types locally were energized after Arizona initially enacted their law about being caught without proof of citizenship.
- Snyder also revealed a 'Report Card' style means of measuring the state's major policy/quality of life issues, and he promises to give a graded update to each of his goals with every 'State of the State' speech.