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Truth Squad: Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder takes high road in endorsing Calley

August 2018 update: Bill Schuette wins Republican nod for Michigan governor

As the race for the GOP primary for governor heats up, underdog Lt. Gov. Brian Calley surely can count on one thing –  Gov. Rick Snyder has his back.

The term-limited Snyder endorsed him March 21. And in a 30-second ad that takes the political high road, Snyder touts Michigan’s record on jobs and taxes, Detroit’s comeback and passage of Right to Work.

Calley “must be our next governor to continue the comeback,” Snyder says.

Related: Truth Squad: Schuette says Calley ‘failed’ Michigan, deserted GOP and Trump
Related: Michigan Truth Squad: Brian Calley’s claims on state’s economic gains
More: 2018 Michigan Truth Squad

Paid for by Snyder’s Relentless Positive Action PAC, the mostly accurate ad doesn’t mention Calley’s principal opponent and primary favorite, Attorney General Bill Schuette.

The claim:

“We’ve come a long way since (2010), cut taxes and regulations. We’ve become a Right to Work state, rescued Detroit, jobs rushing back. Brian Calley has been invaluable to our comeback…Brian Calley must be our next governor to continue the comeback.”

The facts:

Snyder campaigned in 2010 on a vow to replace the Michigan Business Tax with a simpler tax on business. In 2011, he delivered, signing a $1.7 billion tax cut that replaced MBT with a 6 percent corporate tax.

But the measure also raised taxes on individuals by about $1.4 billion. It added an estimated $343 million in taxes on pensions, lowered low-income tax credits by $261 million, reduced homestead property tax credits by $270 million and eliminated $100 million in other individual tax credits.

In 2015, Snyder signed a $1.2 billion road funding measure that raises Michigan fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees.

As for cuts in regulations, under Snyder, the state eliminated some 1,400 forms required of businesses and nixed more than 2,000 rules regulating business and the environment. Snyder also signed a bill streamlining the process for getting a concealed pistol license, dissolving county gun boards and transferring all application and licensing duties to county clerks and the Michigan State Police.

In December 2012, as the ad says, Snyder signed into law a controversial measure making Michigan the 24th Right to Work state – prohibiting unions from requiring workers to pay union fees or dues as a condition of employment.

"This is a major day in Michigan's history," Snyder said. "Again, I don't view this as anti-union at all. I believe this is pro-worker."

Snyder also played a key role in guiding Detroit through bankruptcy, appointing Kevyn Orr as emergency manager in 2013. The city emerged from bankruptcy the next year thanks to a deal known as the Grand Bargain in which the state, philanthropic community and Detroit Institute for the Arts pledged $816 million toward the city and workers and retirees took pension cuts. The state’s up-front commitment of $195 million – the equivalent of $350 million over 20 years - was critical to the deal.

That allowed the city to shed $7 billion in debt and to invest about $1.7 billion into long-neglected services and repairs.

On the jobs front, Michigan’s non-farm employment was about 3.9 million when Snyder took office in 2011. It stood at about 4.4 million in February – a gain of 500,000 jobs.

Mostly Accurate
Gov Snyder
Pro-Calley ad

The ad gets it right on most of its assertions.

Snyder pushed through a substantial tax break for business. But the ad fails to mention he also raised taxes on individuals and on gasoline, while hiking vehicle registration fees.  

It’s true that Snyder signed Right to Work legislation and helped engineer the deal that got Detroit out of bankruptcy. Michigan has added half a million jobs under Snyder.

But how “invaluable” Calley has been to this claimed comeback is unclear. As lieutenant governor, he played second fiddle to Snyder’s major policy initiatives.

And while Calley claims credit for casting the tie-breaking vote on the 2011 corporate tax cut, that measure was in fact Snyder’s signature campaign issue.

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

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