Several times each week that the Michigan Legislature is in session, our legislative liaison office sends the MHSAA and its other clients a list of new bills that have been introduced. And I alternate between being depressed and infuriated with what I read.
Even if each bill is introduced with pure motives to address a real problem, which we know from experience is sometimes not the case (that’s part of what infuriates), all the introductions clutter the calendar and cloud the view of what we need our lawmakers to be doing first, last and only at this critical time in Michigan’s history.
That one thing is fixing the state budget. That’s complicated enough, and we need all hands on deck for the single purpose of steering this ship of state through the storm to a destination of repair so extensive that the outcome looks like an entirely different vessel.
If we care about the quality of life in Michigan and wish to be attractive to tourists and businesses elsewhere, it will mean generating revenues that support that quality of life for us and makes our state attractive to people elsewhere. The money we raise from more adequate taxation to compensate for the decline in our manufacturing base will be returned to us many times over if it is spent (1) to make our universities, colleges and community colleges, our K-12 schools and preschool programs the nation’s best; (2) to preserve our unique natural resources; and (3) to protect the health and welfare of citizens with appropriate police and fire protection and the nation’s best and most accessible health care system. One, two, three . . . and nothing else for now.
Jobs creation in the knowledge economy or green economy or whatever other direction all states will be fighting over is important, of course; and it will most likely occur if we raise adequate revenue from our current economy to attract those businesses to the nation’s most healthy, safe, clean and well-educated state.
All this will not be easy. But it’s made impossible by the lack of focus and discipline among our legislators and leaders. Put the pet projects and petty politics aside and get at it!