The Michigan Daily’s review of Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s State of the State address (Snyder’s one-point plan, 1/20/2011) oversimplifies the governor’s plans and significantly underestimates the potential of economic growth.
The Daily criticized the governor for not devoting more of his speech explicitly to the public sector, the environment and social issues. It’s no secret that these issues are critical to improving our state, but with a $1.8 billion budget deficit and an aging, declining population, focusing on these issues first will only amplify our structural financial problems and lead to more of the broken promises we have become accustomed to.
The only way Michigan can become strong enough to support greater educational, environmental and cultural initiatives is to build a new economic foundation. Rather than viewing the governor’s economic plan as a one-dimensional plane, think of it as a prism that opens up a wide range of opportunities on the other side.
The governor’s plan to redesign Michigan’s corporate income tax, for instance, isn’t simply a gift to the state’s “business industry.” Growing the margin between profit and loss for companies across the state dramatically improves the fortunes of entrepreneurs, business owners, employees and their families, who can then better support local schools, charities and communities. These effects will become self-sustaining as economic recovery sets in.
For now, spending cuts are unavoidable, but Snyder’s push for two-year budgets due months before constitutional deadlines will give citizens and administrators far more time and flexibility to adjust their finances than they have ever had before.
Short-term budgetary pain is the price we must pay for sustainable, prosperous economic activity in the future. The governor was right to make economic development the focus of his address because no other option will generate the resources we need to create the Michigan we want to live in.