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Posted on Sun, Oct 31, 2010 : 6 a.m.

Rick Snyder's campaign platform: the issues that shape Michigan's gubernatorial race

By Staff

Rick Snyder at rally.jpg

Ann Arbor venture capitalist Rick Snyder says that the government must "create an environment where jobs can flourish."

Ryan Stanton |

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Snyder, an Ann Arbor venture capitalist, and Democratic candidate Virg Bernero, the mayor of Lansing, recently visited with's editorial board in advance of the Nov. 2 election.

Here's what Snyder had to say.

Creating jobs

Says Michigan needs a lower and simpler business tax structure and a streamlined regulatory system that’s more friendly to businesses. Wants to replace the Michigan Business Tax with a 6 percent corporate income tax.

Rick Snyder

  • Age: 52
  • Family: wife, Sue; children, Jeff, Melissa and Kelsey
  • Party: Republican
  • Career: CEO of Ann Arbor venture capital firms Ardesta and Avalon Investments (1997-2010); executive vice president, chief operating officer and president at Gateway Inc. (1991-97); tax accountant at Coopers & Lybrand (1982-91)
  • Political experience: none
  • Education: Bachelor’s (1977), master’s (1979) and law (1982) degrees from University of Michigan.
  • Key endorsements: Ford Motor Co. executive chairman Bill Ford Jr.; former Michigan Gov. William Milliken; Michigan Chamber of Commerce; Small Business Association of Michigan; Business Leaders for Michigan; Michigan Manufacturers Association; Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights.

“Jobs is the No. 1 issue by far. Government doesn’t create jobs, we create an environment where jobs can flourish. We have one of the worst business taxes in the country, and it’s bad for multiple reasons. It simply doesn’t work, it’s fundamentally unfair, it’s overly complex and it simply should be eliminated.”

Tax incentives

Believes the Michigan Economic Development Corp., which distributes tax incentives to Michigan companies, has become too politicized and is favoring specific sectors. Would end many of the state’s tax incentives in favor of a lower overall tax structure. Says the state shouldn’t favor specific industries.

“One big reason for the huge incentive package is you’re essentially buying someone into the state to make up for the fact that you have a broken tax and regulatory system. Again, there may still be some strategic need for incentives, but not at that scale. If you fix the underlying tax and regulatory environment, they should be able to dramatically be scaled back.”

Proposed budget cuts

Says cuts must be made to public employee compensation, but said he “wouldn’t take away anything that’s already been earned by anyone.” Wants to reform Michigan’s budgeting system through a system he calls “value for money budgeting,” which would involve assessing the impact of individual services paid for by the state.

“If you’re hiring me to be governor, I have a fiduciary duty to ask two questions. One: What’s financially affordable? And secondly: What’s comparable with the private sector? If you can’t check those boxes, there’s an issue that needs to be addressed. The thing I always say on that, though, is you have to be cognizant of the fact you’re talking about people and their families and their livelihoods, so it has to be done in a very constructive, thoughtful, open way.”


Believes today’s K-12 funding levels are sufficient. Says schools need to be held accountable for their performance. Wants to encourage service consolidation among school districts. Wants universities to get more involved in economic development.

“If you look at it again, you could have a superintendent servicing multiple districts, you can have a lot of shared services between these opportunities.”

Social issues

Opposes abortion except in cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is in danger, but says it’s not an issue on his agenda. Opposes gay marriage but favors state-sanctioned relationships between same-sex partners. Favors embryonic stem cell research. Supports gun rights. Wants to invest in prisoner reentry programs and mental health initiatives to reduce crime rates.


“The best thing to help the criminal justice system is to create jobs, because if someone has a job and a family, they’re not desperate, they’re not in that same environment, and that’s going to help a lot.”

Other campaign issues

Opposes oil drilling in the Great Lakes; wants to increase the focus on wellness and prevention in the health care system; believes Michigan must revitalize Detroit and its distressed urban cities.

On whether he’s too nice

 “I’m just not a yeller and screamer. And people shouldn’t mistake that for a lack of conviction and will to do things. I just view it as, I just try to be professional in how I operate and treat people with respect, but I will get the tough stuff done. And there are enough people in town that will tell you that’s the case.”

On why partisanship is counterproductive

 “We don’t need more fighters in this state. We need problem solvers.”

On why municipalities need to consolidate services to avoid financial crisis

 “Literally there’s a fairly significant likelihood that you could have hundreds of jurisdictions going insolvent in the 2013, 14 time frame, if not sooner. It’s not just a Michigan issue. This is the next hidden national issue.”


Lily White

Sun, Jan 16, 2011 : 3:15 p.m.

When will the retired folks that have worked for the state be asked to pair their fair share of state taxes? How did this even come to be?

kay woods

Wed, Nov 3, 2010 : 3:36 p.m.

Here is my issue with politicians: They point out things that we already know ("no jobs", "need healthcare", etc.) Then they say they will take steps to change the situation, which is what any of us would and should do. BUT THEY NEVER GIVE US A CONCRETE PLAN OR EXPLANATION OF HOW THEY ARE GOING TO DO IT!! Like the stand on jobs --HOW is he going to "create an environment where jobs can flourish".


Mon, Nov 1, 2010 : 12:05 p.m.

Rick Snyder's plans to resurrect Michigan are only bullet points without any specific details. He may as well add two more bullet points, one establishing world peace and the other eliminating poverty and pain. What Rick Snyder needs to provide is a list of specific laws he would ask the Michigan Legislature to pass. Rick Snyder's programs could be presented as follows: "First bill will rescind the Michigan Business Tax and replace it with a flat 6% business tax which will bring in $XXX of revenue as compared to $YYY that the former Michigan Business Tax would have provided. The decline in revenue will be offset by firing 5000 state workers who are not yet tenured and paying new hires lower salaries and no benefits." or "First bill will replace the former subsidized health care for government employees with a health savings plan (HSA) limited to 15% of salary. This will save Michigan $ZZZ a year." or "First bill will make the morning-after pill available only to a woman who provides her pharmacist with a copy of the police rape report and a statement from a physician documenting evidence for rape." or "First bill will replace public schools with private schools and provide each family with a voucher covering 50% of the cost of private school enrollment. This will save the state $ZZZ. Furthermore, the state will not have to expense monitoring of the private schools as everyone already knows that they will provide a superior education." I can continue but Rick Snyder has had months to present such specifics so I do not expect him to openly acknowledge his plans now.

David Briegel

Sun, Oct 31, 2010 : 2:15 p.m.

If you desire Michigan to become China, Vote for the Nerd!

michigan face

Sun, Oct 31, 2010 : 12:43 p.m.

Vote Virg - solve the problem.