The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, June 23, 2006

'We know there's more to do…'Granholm promotes building Strategy; pipe trades endorse her

By Marty Mulcahy, Editor

DETROIT - On the same day the first television ads supporting her candidacy hit the airwaves in Michigan on June 8, Gov. Jennifer Granholm made her first re-election campaign pitch before the building trades.

Talking to the quarterly meeting of Michigan Pipe Trades Association delegates, Granholm used that audience to tout her strategy of accelerating billions of dollars in spending on construction projects to pull the state out of its economic doldrums.

"My $6 billion Jobs Today plan is the most aggressive and comprehensive jobs plan in the nation," Granholm told pipe trades union delegates. "It's going to give your workers a lot more hours. We're taking ten years of building projects and putting them into the next three to four years. There will be $3.5 billion in accelerated projects, which will put 40,000 people to work."

Delegates to the Michigan Pipe Trades Association endorsed Granholm for re-election to governor, and presented her with a $34,000 from their political action committees.

Granholm took only a few swipes at her Republican challenger, billionaire Richard Devos, whose television ads have been airing since February. (She did point out that Devos has already reserved the Internet domain, Devos has been short on specifics in his campaigning, but has a record of supporting trade agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA, and wants to cut taxes for Michigan's businesses even further by eliminating the state Single Business Tax.

Devos, the former president of Alticor (previously Amway) has never laid out a plan on how to replace the $1.9 billion in state revenues generated by the SBT, but many Democrats suspect plans will include raising the sales tax.

Granholm said she would support eliminating the SBT - if the replacement money doesn't hurt Michigan taxpayers. "We need aggressive solutions that are good for business, and good for everyday people," she said. "Too often it's everyday people who are left out of the equation."

The governor acknowledged that the state is "struggling" economically, but said the major reason for this is that the federal government is "ignoring manufacturing. We've lost hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs to China where they're paying workers $1 per hour."

She pointed out that South Korea exported 700,000 vehicles to the U.S. - but only allowed the importation of 4,000 vehicles because of their stricter trade limitations. And more vehicles are made in Ontario than Michigan, she said, because Canada's government-sponsored health care lowers their cost of doing business.

During her 15-minute talk, Granholm kept the mood positive, focusing on the good things that have happened during the last three-and-a-half years she has been in office. Among them: cutting state government spending to make up a $4 billion deficit when she came into office. At the same time, signing into law 59 targeted tax cuts. And the implementation of higher high school academic standards, as well as the announcement of moves to Michigan by companies like Keebler (700 jobs) and a solar energy company to Greenville, which recently saw the shuttering of the Electrolux refrigerator plant.

"We know there's more to do," she said. "I won't rest until Michigan is turned around on the path to transforming our economy."

A BIG CHECK FOR $34,000 was given to Gov. Jennifer Granholm on June 8, an amount pooled by pipe trades union political action committees in Michigan. Unions were represented by their respective business managers. They include (l-r) Tom Devlin, Local 636; Scott Garrison, Local 85; Gary Gunberg, Local 357; International Union Rep. Gary Young; Bob Rutan, Local 704; Ron Sweat, Local 671; Gov. Granholm, United Association of Plumbers, Pipe Fitters and Sprinkler Fitters General President William Hite; Michigan Pipe Trades Association President Jim Davis (Local 333); Ron House (Local 190); Tom Delehant (Local 98); Steve Kelly, International Union Assistant to the General President; Greg Sides, Local 506; Mark Johnson, Local 370, and Kirk Stevenson, Local 174.