Groups knock Snyder on job efforts
BY CHRIS CHRISTOFF
DETROIT FREE PRESS LANSING BUREAU CHIEF
11:52 AM, May. 25, 2011|
LANSING – As Gov. Rick Snyder prepared today to sign a landmark tax reform bill, he was sharply criticized by a coalition of labor and environmental groups for not doing enough to promote jobs, and especially clean energy industry jobs.
The BlueGreen Alliance said Snyder and Republicans are more interested in undercutting collective bargaining, health care benefits and taxing pensioners than they are in producing more jobs.
“This administration has been ignoring clean energy to death, and has made it clear that energy isn’t on their radar screen right now, and that’s a concern,” said Ann Woiwode, director of the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. “In order to compete, Michigan has to domore, we have to keep on the path we started on.”
Woiwode said former Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s efforts to attract alternative energy and advanced battery manufacturers has created jobs and given the state a foothold in the global energy market.
“It’s a startling thing to see. Statistics show this is an industry should be supporting,” Woiwode said.
Ari Adler, spokesman for House Republicans, said Granholm’s administration inflated job creation numbers for new clean energy and other industries. He said it’s unfair to measure job growth since Republicans have controlled state government since only January.
Adler said since then, Republicans have done more to make Michigan competitive for job-creating businesses than was accomplished in the decade before through tax reform, reduced state spending and regulation reform.
“It’s not government’s role to create jobs,” Adler said. “We create an environment in which individuals can create jobs.”
AFL-CIO Michigan president Mark Gaffney said government must play a more direct role in job creation. He said the auto, solar panel, and planned high speed rail projects in Michigan are flourishing because of federal government money and intervention. He said the renewable energy industry needs similar government help.
“We think the Republicans in this state are just plan wrong on giving enormous tax breaks to businesses and sitting back and waiting for something to happen,” Gaffney said.
The alliance of 10 unions and four environmental groups is promoting environmental protection as a benefit of union jobs, and green energy as a rich source of new jobs.
Former congressman Mark Schauer of Battle Creek is a national co-chair of the BlueGreen Alliance Jobs21! campaign. Schauer said the campaign promotes policies to address unemployment, renewable energy and what he called an environmental and climate crisis.
Woiwode said environmentalists and labor groups have a long history of supporting one another. She and Gaffney said union and state workers who are trained in workplace safety are more likely to report environmental hazards that could endanger workers or the public. Gaffney said their union contracts protect them for whistle-blowing.
He said Republicans in Lansing have no plan to create jobs. He said Snyder’s $1.8 billion tax cut for businesses is repackaged supply side economics that has failed in the past to create jobs or monetary benefits for the middle class.
“We still have 450,000 Michiganders out of work, and yet we argue whether public employees should pay 10% or 20% of their health care, instead of finding ways to put people back to work,” Gaffney said.
He added, “It was jobs that Republicans ran on, and it’s tax breaks for businesses that they’re delivering. That’s not jobs.”