Panelists representing legislative leadership and the Snyder administration told the audience at the 2012 Legislative Dinner that they have serious doubts that a downtown casino will ever be built in Lansing. The group also endorsed the idea of an August ballot proposal for transportation funding, and showed little appetite for consideration of Right to Work legislation in 2012.
Those were just a few of the highlights of the annual Chambers of Commerce event, sponsored by the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, which was held on March 21 at the Lexington Lansing Hotel. The event, presented by AT&T drew a crowd of 240 local and state chamber officials, as well as state lawmakers. Attendees heard a lively panel discussion featuring Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, House Majority Floor Leader Jim Stamas, Governor Snyder’s Chief of Staff Dennis Muchmore and the Governor’s Strategic Policy Advisor Bill Rustem.
Moderator Tim Skubick kicked off the discussion by asking panelists if they thought the proposed casino would ever be built in downtown Lansing. Panelists agreed such a project was unlikely to occur.
“There are quite a few hurdles to go through,” said Muchmore. “In addition, the public has mixed emotions.”
The panelists also appeared to support the idea of a statewide ballot proposal in August to support funding for the Governor’s $1.4 billion transportation package. There was a lack of certainty as to what the specifics of such a proposal might entail, but Rustem made it clear that the state will need to raise more funds to adequately address transportation needs.
“It’s not going to be revenue neutral,” said Rustem. “We have to get on a path to build a transportation system that supports economic development in the 21st century.”
The panel answered questions regarding the financial crisis in Detroit, healthcare and education. The issue of Right to Work legislation sparked some passion in the crowd. However, panelists agreed they did not feel the time is right to consider such a divisive issue. Richardville noted that his Senate GOP caucus of 25 members is too divided to reach a consensus.
“I have a third of my members that strongly support considering Right to Work, a third that are lukewarm and a third that don’t want to bring it up at all,” said Richardville.