Michigan Governor Rick Snyder Calls for Partnership with Nonprofits: Credible or No?

October 11, 2011; Source: Kalamazoo Gazette  |  Michigan Governor Rick Snyder recently told the Council of Michigan Foundations that he likes nonprofits “who don’t blame or take credit.” What in the world does that mean? Does the governor like nonprofits so long as they or their leaders keep their mouths shut? As long as they don’t criticize Snyder’s policies, such as his four-year cap on welfare benefits in a state that has been in a multi-year economic free-fall? Or his call to convert the nonprofit Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan to for-profit status?

Maybe Governor Snyder doesn’t want nonprofits to criticize his notion of the role of the nonprofit sector, which is to “fill in gaps the private and public sectors are missing,” as the Kalamazoo Gazette put it.

For now, Snyder seems to have mollified Great Lakes State nonprofits. Kyle Caldwell, the head of the Michigan Nonprofit Association, welcomed what he characterized as Snyder’s positive view of the nonprofit sector. He agreed that “people in nonprofits are chronically positive” and said he “appreciate[d] [that Snyder] recognized that nonprofits are on the front end of issues. . . [He also] liked the notion about connecting assets to problems, like using universities as incubators.” Gubernatorial valentines to the nonprofit sector are all well and good, but it would be nice if the words, Snyder’s and others, of both parties, matched the actions.—Rick Cohen