Snyder’s Detroit Outreach Could Include New Office

By: - December 2, 2010 12:00 am

On the campaign trail, Michigan Governor-elect Rick Snyder said, “Michigan cannot be a great state until Detroit is on the path to being a great city.” In that vein, Snyder is considering opening a new office of urban affairs in Detroit, reports . As part of his urban agenda, Snyder has proposed tax credits for young people who live or work in cities, plus more spending on mass transit and increased investment in the arts. The focus on the urban core is somewhat unusual for a Republican. In his landslide win, Snyder won 38 percent of the vote in Detroit’s Wayne County, far better than Republicans typically perform there.

Rhode Island governor-elect Lincoln Chafee wants veteran legislator Steven Costantino to run the Office of Health and Human Services. Now it’s up to the state Ethics Commission to decide whether the move is legal, the Providence Journal reports . As the outgoing chairman of the Rhode Island House Finance Committee, Costantino must abide by ethics rules that forbid legislators from accepting state jobs within a year of leaving office. He’s asking the commission for an advisory opinion that the revolving door rule doesn’t apply to high-level gubernatorial appointments, noting ambiguities in the wording of the regulations. If the Ethics Commission grants his request, Costantino, a Democrat, would be the latest addition to the eclectic team that Chafee, an independent, is assembling-a team that includes Democrats, Republicans and some Chafee family loyalists.

Minnesota still doesn’t know for sure who its next governor will be, but it knows that he will support expanded gambling. Mark Dayton , the Democratic candidate, has proposed casinos at the Mall of America or at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, while Tom Emmer , the Republican candidate, sponsored a bill to create a racetrack casino as a state legislator. That history, combined with shifts in the legislature and a budget shortfall that has the state groping for new sources of revenue, boosts the prospect of new gaming legislation, Minnesota Public Radio reports . Dayton and Emmer are locked in a recount, though independent observers say it’s very likely that Dayton will win. Indian tribes, which operate 18 casinos in the state, have worked to block gambling expansion in the past. But that resistance may not be enough this year, with the state facing a projected .8 billion fiscal shortfall in the upcoming biennium and with newly empowered legislative Republicans resistant to tax increases.

After winning reelection, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick asked his whole cabinet for resignation letters. As it turns out, though, he didn’t actually want them to leave. And most of them are staying. The Boston Globe reports that only Ian Bowles, the secretary of energy and environmental affairs, is departing the eight-member cabinet. His replacement, Richard K. Sullivan Jr. , will provide a measure of continuity. Sullivan currently is the head of Conservation and Recreation, a department that falls under the energy and environmental affairs umbrella. The governor also will have a new-though not unfamiliar-chief of staff, as legal counsel William “Mo” Cowan takes the job from Arthur Bernard. Frequent turnover is common in the demanding chief of staff position: Cowan will be Patrick’s fourth chief in just four years.

The incoming Republican majority in Wisconsin may pull back on state-provided health insurance, the Wisconsin State Journal reports . Wisconsin has some of the nation’s most expansive public insurance programs, which go well beyond minimum Medicaid requirements. It created its version of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as BadgerCare, under Republican Governor Tommy Thompson in the 1990s, then expanded BadgerCare under Democratic Governor Jim Doyle. Today, only 10 percent of Wisconsin residents are uninsured, well below the national average. Republicans, though, including incoming governor Scott Walker , worry that they can’t afford that level of generosity and want stricter eligibility requirements. 

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Josh Goodman

Josh Goodman helps lead research on fiscal management and place-based economic development programs as part of Pew’s state fiscal health project. Goodman has served as a primary author for Pew studies that examine how states should evaluate tax incentives and maintain budget discipline when implementing those incentives.