The number of angry labor-movement supporters showing up at the state Capitol is growing - a protest of Republican proposals to tax pensions and limit union control. Thousands of people showed up at the state Capitol today for the biggest protest rally so far this year.
A drum circle played on the Capitol lawn, surrounded by protesters with signs, a 15-foot inflated eagle, and flapping American and UAW flags. There were big, hulking men in hardhats, businesspeople in suits, and young parents pushing strollers.
"You know, Snyder, congratulations; you've riled the middle class, you've riled the middle-of-the-road people," says Gretchen Whitmer from Cadillac, a retired school teacher. She says she's not normally one to join rallies or protests, but she is furious that schools will be expected to take huge budget cuts under Governor Rick Snyder's plan.
There were many reasons why people showed up at the Capitol, but they were all angry with what they view as Republican dissolution of the middle class.
Bob King, president of the United Auto Workers union, says many people who voted for Governor Rick Snyder were deceived.
"He ran saying he wasn't going to be partisan," King says. "He ran saying he would try to pull people together. All he's trying to do is take more money out of the middle class and give it to the wealthiest. It's what Republicans are doing across this country, trying to destroy the middle class, it's wrong. He's doing it all the wrong way."
One concern of protesters is Governor Snyder's plan to tax pensions. The governor says he understands their frustration, but he says a tax on pensions - done the right way - is only fair.
"We're really looking at the issue for people to have a pension of how to address it at the lower income levels, as we would any citizen," he said Wednesday. "So it's really people with higher incomes that would be subject to the tax, and it's an equity issue in many respects. We have an aging population, and we can't shift this burden on our young people."
Snyder spoke with a group of business leaders at Jackson National Life Insurance in Okemos. He says it's important to create an attractive business atmosphere in Michigan to keep young people interested in working and living in the state.