Gov. Rick Snyder has said he admires the leadership model of former Gov. William Milliken. In his first State of the State address tonight, it will be interesting to see whether the new governor emulates the earlier one in the number of proposals to expand the scope of state government.

The Mackinac Center has tallied proposed expansions and limitations in each Michigan State of the State address since 1969. While not perfectly scientific, the exercise may provide some insight into an administration’s mindset. What do the past speeches tell us?

Gov. Milliken proposed the least number of state government expansions, averaging just 5.9 per speech between 1969 and 1982. In contrast, Gov. Granholm offered up an average of 16.4 new expansions per year. Gov. Milliken also holds the record for the fewest expansions in any particular year, proposing zero in 1974.

 

Expansions and Limitations by Administration
since 1969

Gov. Milliken, 1969-1982

Avg.

High

Low

 

Proposed expansions

5.6

12 ('71, 80)

0 ('74)

 

Proposed limitations

2.9

8 ('73)

0 ('70, '79, '82)

 

Gov. Blanchard, 1983-1990

Avg.

High

Low

 

Proposed expansions

8.6

19 ('89, '90)

1 ('85)

 

Proposed limitations

2.1

7 ('84)

0 ('87, '88)

 

 

Gov. Engler, 1991-2002

Avg.

High

Low

 

Proposed expansions

8.4

18 ('00)

3 ('91)

 

Proposed limitations

4.3

11 ('95)

1 ('02, '97, '03)

 

Gov. Granholm, 2003-2010

Avg.

High

Low

 

Proposed expansions

16.4

24 ('08)

7 ('05)

 

Proposed limitations

3

6 ('03) ('09)

0 ('05)

 

Worth noting is that chaos did not ensue following this lack of expansionist proposals in the 1974 Michigan State of the State speech. It’s true that disco was born that year, but no evidence suggests Gov. Milliken was responsible.

Gov. Granholm holds the record for the greatest number of proposed expansions in a State of the State speech with 24 in 2008. Gov. John Engler and Gov. James Blanchard maxed out at 18 and 19, respectively.