There’s $7 billion that remains available on Michigan’s balance sheet, half of which is leftover one-time federal stimulus dollars. Michigan’s fiscal year 2023 budget signed into law this summer begins on October 1. The remaining $7B has more shelf life – based on federal parameters of when funds have to be allocated – and we need to plan now on getting those dollars in the right hands that need it most.
The health of our state’s economy depends on how well our businesses thrive. Right now businesses of all sizes are working to overcome the challenges they face a tightening economy, labor shortages, historic inflation and supply chain strain. Not to mention, they’re still working to fully rebound from the lingering effects of a global pandemic.
One of the greatest takeaways from the COVID-19 pandemic was understanding the critical role employers play in the success of our state, our economy, our communities and our families. We’re all stronger together.
When businesses aren’t staffed, they’re not producing as much revenue. That means people are going home with less money to spend in restaurants, grocery stores, local shops and on other goods and services, causing more businesses to sink. But a small fraction of that $7 billion can provide much-needed support to strengthen our state’s businesses and economy.
To nurse our economy back to health, we have to strategically invest resources into the right places, starting with our workforce, infrastructure, and ensuring a good government.
Here are a few previous supplemental and fiscal year 2023 state budget deal items taking effect on October 1 that the Michigan Chamber – in alignment with several West Michigan Policy Forum priorities – believes are necessary to help Michiganders thrive.
- $2.5M to expand the state’s Tri-Share Pilot Project – a public-private partnership between the state, employers and eligible employees that equally shares the cost of childcare – to help tackle a key and real barrier to employment: affordable childcare for working parents.
- $55M in new funding for the proven Going PRO program to help meet the growing employee training and upskilling needs of fast-evolving workplaces and economy. Learn how to tap this:
- $316M in federal funds for state trunkline road and bridge capital construction programs as well as local feder
al-aid road construction programs. Modern, efficient and reliable infrastructure is the backbone of a healthy, thriving economy.
- $250.6M in federal funds to provide competitive broadband infrastructure grants (rather than a stifling government-owned model)
to build up broadband service in unserved or underserved areas. The pandemic underscored the importance of internet access to our state’s families, businesses and communities.
- $100M to deposit back into the 100% employer funded Unemployment Trust Fund and hold employers harmless from being forced to eat the costs of fraudulent and improper state unemployment benefits paid out over the course of the pandemic.
- $4.1M to investigate and prosecute unemployment fraud in Michigan.
- Unfunded liabilities to ensure pension promises are fulfilled.
While these programs and areas certainly represent key investments, state budgets and appropriations must also be fiscally responsible, sustainable and should not pass along significant debt to future generations.
We urge our state’s policymakers to keep a sharp eye on budgeting that makes strategic, transformational investments with these one-time, once-in-a-generation dollars, while not creating crushing future obligations.
The bottom line is that bipartisan, pragmatic policies and fiscal responsibility are a strong foundation for building a stronger Michigan for all.
By guest author Jim Holcomb, president and CEO of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.