On January 1, 2011, Rick Snyder was inaugurated as Governor of Michigan amid one of the starkest economic periods in state history. From 2000 to 2009, incomes in the state plummeted from being the 18th-highest in the country to 38th place, a decline that only a few states had experienced since the Great Depression. What’s more, in 2009, Michigan became the first state in 25 years to eclipse 15 percent unemployment. Finally, numerous companies and municipalities (including General Motors and Detroit) had declared or were on the brink of bankruptcy. For the Michigan economy, the 2000s were a “lost decade.”
Michigan’s economic woes had a pernicious impact on state employees. The loss of revenue resulted in the budget becoming “structurally broken,” forcing the state to implement “early outs” and furloughs and eliminate training. Thus, when Snyder declared that “The reinvention of Michigan must not leave anyone behind,” he was referring to not only the hundreds of thousands of Michiganders who had lost jobs but also the tens of thousands of state employees serving them.