Michigan Governor Rick Snyder spoke in Kalamazoo Friday evening at a dinner sponsored by the Kalamazoo County Republican Party, praising the economic improvement he says the state’s seen on his watch and taking questions from audience members.
The event took place at the Pine West event center on South Eleventh Street.
In his speech, Snyder said Michigan was a “broken state” just a few years ago, which he and other Michigan Republicans have sought to “reinvent” through economic renewal. Attendees applauded when he described what he said was a much-improved employment outlook under his administration.
“Over 220,000 private-sector jobs created. And when people say, ‘what kind of jobs are these,’ these are good jobs, folks. We are number four in the country in the creation of high paying jobs. We are number six in the creation of middle paying jobs. So these werent aren’t entry-level jobs, these are well-paying jobs. Number one in manufacturing jobs, number three in high-tech jobs,” he said.
Audience members asked the governor about issues ranging from Medicaid expansion to the condition of the state’s roads. Snyder’s answer to the pothole question was the most specific on policy. He said the state needs to spend about $1 billion beyond routine maintenance improving its roads and infrastructure.
“If we don’t invest that, what we’re seeing now is only going to get worse and worse,” he said. “Think about roads twice as bad, three times as bad, as we have today, in ten years.”
He dismissed the idea that a few hundred million dollars could pay for the necessary improvements, saying that would only pay for “salt, overtime and some asphalt,” and added, “This isn’t official pothole season yet, folks.”
Outside the banquet hall, a few dozen people gathered in punishing temperatures to protest Snyder’s appearance. JoeAnne Peterson, a retired educator, says she attended because taxes on her pension have reduced her income and left her wondering how she’ll afford to pay her heating bill this winter.
“A promise was made when we started – in my case 35 years ago – that if we worked hard, if we paid our taxes, that we would be able to enjoy a dignified retirement,” she says.
“The promise was broken. Good faith with us was broken.”
The event was the Kalamazoo County Republicans’ 119th Lincoln Tribute Dinner. According to their website, the cost of a single ticket was $60.