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Snyder to deliver his final State of the State address. What will he say?

Governor Rick Snyder brings his sound fiscal-management-show to the stage one last time tomorrow at the Capitol.

But, he’s delivering his final State of the State address to an audience of lawmakers who just dealt him a rare veto override.

Snyder could be celebrating eight years of Republican control in Lansing while he’s been in office. Except Snyder has often found himself on the other side of the Republican majorities in the House and Senate.

Last week, his fellow Republicans - along with Democrats - overrode his veto. This is the first time that’s happened in 16 years in Michigan. It’s only the fourth time it’s happened since the 1960’s.

Snyder on defense

At the same time, Snyder is bargaining with GOP leaders on the size and scope of other tax breaks to address a glitch created by the new federal tax law.

Snyder has cut taxes as governor. But he’s also insisted that tax cuts shouldn’t make huge holes in the state budget.

Snyder has made structurally balanced budgets that are less susceptible to the vicissitudes of Michigan’s boom-or-best economy a hallmark of his administration.

His Republican legislative partners? Not so much.

Along with the veto override, legislative Republicans are pushing for a bigger personal exemption and other added tax breaks that Snyder World fears would imperil stable budgets going out years into the future.

The veto override was a message from GOP leaders to Snyder. And that is, your devotion to structurally balanced budgets won’t stand in the way of our political goals.

Snyder, for example, would like to bump the state’s “rainy day” savings above a billion dollars for the first time since the Great Recession. That makes Wall Street and a budget-balancing governor happy.

But putting money into savings doesn’t typically win points with voters. And it doesn’t square with the belief among many Republicans that government shouldn’t be sitting on large reserves of cash that could be returned to taxpayers.

Economic legacy

Snyder wants a long-term stable budget to be part of his legacy. He will no doubt use his time on the rostrum tomorrow evening to make the case to the Legislature and the public for his version of responsible fiscal planning.

Now even a lame duck governor remains consequential to the final day of the term but that influence diminishes with each month as the powers that be in Lansing start looking more and more toward the next governor and the next administration

It can be tough being a lame duck governor. Tomorrow is Rick Snyder’s last best chance to make his case in his most public forum of the year.


Zoe Clark is Michigan Public's Political Director. In this role, Clark guides coverage of the state Capitol, elections, and policy debates.
Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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