Donatelli: Snyder Shapes Up Michigan

Fighting public-sector unions key to real change

If any state has had its share of economic problems, it’s Michigan. In 2009, battered by a decade of slow growth, recession and the collapse of the auto industry, unemployment soared to more than 14 percent. The state’s largest city, Detroit, has suffered economic and political turbulence, including the indictment and removal of a former mayor on charges of corruption. At the beginning of the past fiscal year, the state budget was $1.5 billion in the red, and long-term state liabilities were continuing to mount.

In November 2010, voters swept Republican Gov. Rick Snyder into office, along with Republican majorities in both the state House and Senate. A tax accountant by training, Mr. Snyder has also been an executive at Gateway Computer Co. and the head of a venture-capital firm. He had not previously been a candidate for political office. He boasts a friendly and informal style, noting that he sometimes violates Statehouse rules by forgetting to wear a necktie.