Meet the Press   |  July 21, 2013

Snyder on Detroit: 'No other viable options'

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder visits Meet the Press to explain the state's decision to declare bankruptcy for the city of Detroit.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> want to begin with michigan governor rick snyder . filing of bankruptcy by detroit is such a big story . i was immediately drawn to something you said back in june to 11. i'll put it up on the screen. the headline, "bankruptcy not an option for cities." governor snyder said that he won't let detroit or any other michigan cities declare bankruptcy. detroit 's not going into bankruptcy. snyder told reporters, we're going to work hard to make sure that we don't need an emergency manager and bankruptcy shouldn't be on the table. so what happened?

>> well, we worked hard on the process. again, that's something to be avoided. and it's not something i'm happy to be in this situation. this was a very tough decision. but it's the right decision. because ultimately the issue we need to do is to get better services for the 700,000 people of detroit . the citizens of detroit deserve better than they're getting today, in addition to dealing with this crushing debt question. we went through all the other processes we could. there were no other viable options. and once you go through every other option, then you should consider bankruptcy. we're at that point. i believe it's the right thing to do now because the focus needs to be dealing with this debt question. but even more importantly, david, the citizens of detroit deserve better services. 58-minute response times on police calls. absolutely unacceptable.

>> 58 minutes, average response time for high-priority calls. 50% of the park s closed since 2008 . 40% of the streetlights don't work. how do politicians let the motor city down?

>> again, if you look, this is 60 years of decline. this has been kicking the can down the road for 6 of 0 years. and my perspective on it, enough is enough. i think there needs to be more accountability in government. and part of the issue here is let's stand up with and deal with this tragic situation and take care of the citizens. and that's what this is all about. this is drawing that line to say let's stop going downhill. because if we hadn't declared bankruptcy, every continuing day, detroit would have gone farther downhill. this is an opportunity to stabilize detroit . and even more importantly, longer term, i'm very bullish about the growth opportunities of detroit . there's many outstanding things going on in the city with the private sector, with young people moving in the city, it's got great opportunity. the last major obstacle is the city government .

>> you've got $18 billion in debt. a friend of mine i talked to said, you know, is this america? look what's happened. how do you recover? you've got some 20,000 retirees there who rely upon pension checks which is grossly underfunded. how do you find a way back? how does a city like this turn itself around?

>> well, you get honest about it to start with. again, that's about accountability and putting the fangts on the table. that's been a big part of this exercise is in many cases for the on years, we've ignored the facts. and the retirees, i empathize with them.

>> can you possibly make good on all those commitments, major retirees?

>> let me put it in perspective for you. one of the things that bankruptcy does allow is a positive in the sense that we were talking with a lot of creditors. but one of the issues that weren't being represented well enough were the retirees. so proactively in the bankruptcy petition, one thing that we're asking for is the judge, right up front, to appoint someone to represent the retirees. they need to be at the table. they need to have a voice. and the other thing i want to really speak to the retirees themselves now is to the degree the pension plans are funded, that doesn't affect us at all. the bankruptcy is about the unfunded portion of the pension liability, which is still significant. i don't want to underestimate it, but the funded piece is safe. the real question is how do you address the unfunded piece. and if you go back in history, it's an ugly history of how this pension fund was managed.

>> as is the case in a lot of different cities.