Rick Snyder calls for "engaging people on the ground" at speaker series event

Last week, Model D and Declare Detroit joined forces to host a conversation with gubernatorial candidate Rick Snyder at the Max M. Fisher Center. The talk was facilitated by Roger Martin, an award-winning journalist and public relations executive.

The appearance was part of Model D's ongoing speaker series. Gubernatorial candidate Virg Bernero has also been invited by Model D and Declare Detroit, though he has yet to confirm. 

We turned on our digital recorder and came back with some quotable highlights from the talk. Here are Snyder's responses to questions from Martin:

On Detroit:
When you drive around the city of Detroit, it's a tragedy to see how it is today. But I also see opportunity. The situation in Detroit, and some of our other cities, in other part of our state, we never should have had happen to begin with. And it's because we didn't pay enough attention to our government. We didn't get involved. We didn't do a lot of things we should have done a long time ago. And it's time to take action.

On establishing a mass transit system:
How many regional chamber conferences have people gone to and heard about the need for regional transportation systems? It's like Groundhog Day. I really prefer public-private partnership models. That's the best way to do things where you engage people on the ground, and all sectors come together to bring results. In that case, you have the private sector hopefully providing capital, wanting to manage something. And the role of government is to get out if the way, figure out how we do permitting, all the regulatory stuff in an efficient fashion. Right now, in this city, or in many cities in our state, it's too difficult.

On restoring funding to the state university system:
It's a world-class system, and it's being threatened. In one way, we need to invest more in our colleges and universities. But I'll also tell you, we need to ask our colleges and universities to (provide) more value for the money right now, in terms of how they operate. They need to be much more efficient in how they operate.

On inventive ways to help balance the budget: Take Medicaid. We don't do things right. Because right now the primary relief valve for Medicaid patients is to go to the emergency room. And that's highly expensive. So my view is we should actually be looking at increasing reimbursement for primary care physicians or health care professionals. Let's get them out in the field, let's get federally qualified health care centers, they're an option, and get an environment where we're putting more dollars on the front end. If you treat strep throat on the front lines, it's $50 or $60 dollars. If they go to the ER, it's $500 dollars. So here's a case of actually helping people, better, at a lower cost.

More thoughts on health care: One of the dumbest things we did a few years ago was we cut out our front-line mental health services. It was a short-term attitude. If we had had better front-line mental health services, you can help people that then can hold a job, they can be a taxpayer, they can be a contributing member of the community. By not helping them, you drop them one one of two paths. You drop them on the path to the acute health care system with multiple ER visits, potentially homelessness coming out of it. The more likely path is you drop them in the Department of Corrections path, where essentially, because of cutting out alternative programs, we end up throwing them in prisons and making them good criminals. It makes no sense.

On working with state legislators:
"I don't care about credit. I'm not doing this job for my resume. I'm not seeking any other office. And what I want to have happen, is any legislator who is part of the solution, regardless of their party -- again, no labels -- I want them to claim success. Finally. Because they haven't had anything to go back to their districts and say they did. I want them to go back and make them look really good. Because the more heroes I can create, the more we got done.

Ashley Woods is Model D Buzz editor.

Photos of Rick Snyder and Roger Martin by Walter Wasacz