During the 20th century, Michigan became the center of the world for vehicle manufacturing, which created a middle class like none other in our nation, with its high salaries followed by early retirements with lifetime benefits for workers, many of whom saw no need for a four-year college degree. Vehicle manufacturing underwrote this security, as well as a state government that could afford to support decent schools and roads, a full buffet of social services and world-class institutions of higher education.
A mere decade into the 21st century, Michigan has dropped off an economic cliff. One of every two jobs lost in the United States during the past decade was lost in Michigan; and the rest of the world manufactures more vehicles than Michigan; while a deepening deficit in the state budget remains even after repeated cuts in every state government program and service. Michigan leads the nation in “out-migration.”
The combination of a declining economy and both constitutional and legislated tax exemptions, deductions and credits has transformed our state’s finances from a $6.8 billion revenue surplus in fiscal year 1998 to a $6.3 billion revenue deficit for fiscal year 2008, according to the House Fiscal Agency.
Yet among our state’s leadership and citizens are those who still refuse to advance or support changes. Standing on their principles, these people assure our state will complete its fall to 50th by most quality of life standards, which will result in more job losses for private and public employees alike.
For our part, we’re going to support those who are working to solve problems and who under-stand the solutions must include making changes, even in preciously held positions of the past. See these links to some of the diverse groups looking for different solutions to improve and secure Michigan’s future:
michigan.gov/mde (for the Great Start Readiness Program)
michiganturnaroundplan.com (or businessleadersformichigan.com)
Assess what each of these and many others have to offer for solutions, and get involved in what you think will make a positive long-term difference for our state.