Sept. 9 2010 12:00 AM

Snyder rejects Bernero’s proposal on small-business loans

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Virg Bernero reached out to his opponent’s campaign Tuesday, asking him to sign a petition supporting a proposed federal bill that would help small businesses get access to loans.

Bernero’s opponent, Republican candidate Rick Snyder, didn’t bite.

Snyder told 93.5 FM WHMI of Livingston County Wednesday he would not sign the petition because it’s political maneuvering and that there were more important issues facing Michigan.

“I’m not going to sign the letter. That’s more political gamesmanship,” Snyder said on the program. “We should be talking about eliminating the Michigan Business Tax. We have a job killer tax right in front of us.”

Rather than taking up federal legislation, Snyder said the ultimate issue is ensuring all 10 million people in Michigan walk around with smiling faces.

“The first and foremost focus that we should have is about Michiganders getting our act together here and changing an environment of being too negative and divisive to one of how we can work and win together,” he said on the program.

The Bernero campaign said the $30 billion Small Business Jobs and Credit Act would leverage up to $300 billion in small business investment. The bill made it through the U.S. House of Representatives, 241 to 182, in June. It was co-sponsored by Michigan Rep. Gary Peters and 19 other House Democrats.

Todd Cook, a Democratic political consultant, said Bernero’s purpose was likely two-fold: to show Bernero is dedicated to small business growth and also by bringing a mostly quiet Snyder campaign into the political fray.

“It’s good policy and good politics (for Bernero),” Cook said. “This is one way to draw attention to the campaign. Snyder wants to keep it quiet and go through the motions.”

Cook added that Snyder's generally quiet campaign means Bernero has two challenges before the General Election: getting his own name recognized while also informing the public on Snyder’s outsourcing policies at Gateway (one aspect of Snyder’s career that Bernero is foaming at the mouth over).

“Obviously Bernero is looking to engage Snyder,” which is equally as important as getting people to know about his mayoral record in Lansing, Cook said.

The latest poll by an East Lansing-based communications group has Snyder ahead of Bernero by 27 points.