In the last few weeks of 2011, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) rounded out his concerted campaign against Michigan workers with a few final laws. In a prejudicial move against the LGBT community, Snyder signed a measure prohibiting all public employees from providing benefits for their unmarried partners. In considering his state’s 10.6 percent unemployment rate, Snyder also signed a law forcing some of Michigan’s over 400,000 unemployed workers to take low-wage jobs after 10 weeks of benefits, even if those jobs pay less than they were making before:
The measures require some unemployed workers to take new jobs after 10 weeks of benefits even if the available work is outside their previous experience or pays lower wages than they were making before. They also make it harder for someone to collect jobless benefits if they’re fired for cause or leave a job voluntarily.[…]
Snyder disagreed with critics who say requiring jobless workers to take a job paying 120 percent of their weekly benefit could trap them in a low-wage position by leaving them little time to look for work in their area of expertise.
“It’s to encourage people to work. It’s not to have them go backward,” Snyder said of the legislation. “It’s easiest to find a job when you’ve gotten a job.”
This new requirement comes in addition to Snyder’s decision to cut the availability of unemployment insurance from 26 weeks to 20 weeks starting in 2012. The measure also encapsulates Snyder’s priorities over his first year in office — placing the burden on the most vulnerable for the sake of the state’s bottom line. In 2011, he “shaved billions of dollars off future health care and retirement commitments,” proposed ending the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit, cut funding for school districts by eight to ten percent, cut aid for 11,000 low-income families and nearly 30,000 children, and enacted a regressive increase in personal taxes — all in the name of the deficit.
Naturally, not all Michiganders were asked to share in such sacrifices — namely, corporations. While more than 1.5 million of his constituents faced poverty, Snyder enacted a $1.7 billion tax cut for corporations, or about “$30 in corporate tax cuts for every dollar saved in welfare benefit cuts.” Indeed, Snyder pushed to cut the state’s business taxes by nearly $2 billion, or 86 percent.
In enacting such preferential treatment for those who need it least, Snyder did earn an impressive recognition in 2011. For his first year in office, Snyder ranked as one of the most unpopular governors in the country.