September 18, 2023
TO: Michigan Population Commission
Co-chairs John Rakolta and Shirley Stancato
Individuals and families seek what is best in order to flourish. There are many places in this country to have a fulfilling life. In the past 50 years, Michigan has had periods of modest growth in population, but is again experiencing out-migration. Last year, Michigan was in the bottom 20 states for growth. As we consider those trends, it is apparent that public policy matters.
Many of us know how wonderful our state is, but as we see other states grow it clearly isn’t competing well enough. Whether someone is mid-career or graduating from school they look first for career opportunities and then to the community they want to live in. We’re confident that if we can attract and grow the employers needed to offer these careers here then Michigan’s splendor will land people here. As we live and work in an area of Michigan that is continuing to grow, we offer these basic ideas as ways to ensure that more families and individuals can build fulfilling lives over the coming decades in an environment of vibrant businesses, great education, and natural beauty:
Improve K-12 Education Opportunities
- Achieve simple but clear accountability – Michigan currently ranks 43 overall nationally based on the most recent data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Parents deserve clear and understandable metrics and teachers deserve the freedom to teach. Every child must learn to read by the 3rd grade so they can read to learn for the rest of their life. Therefore, the state must remove red tape and ensure every child can read before moving past the 3rd
- Fund students, not systems: because every child is unique and all children deserve access to a quality education, the state should offer every child access to all options that may work for them; regardless of their zip code or family’s income via Education Savings Accounts (ESAs).
- Support full transportation needs in Michigan via revenue-neutral shift to meet future vehicle characteristics (gas, electric, CNG, etc.) Michigan drivers and consumers deserve infrastructure that works, without making it more expensive to provide jobs or get to work or school in our state.
- Michigan residents currently pay one of the highest state tax burdens, ranking as the twenty-ninth worst state for state and local income tax burdens per capita. Texas, Nevada, Washington and Florida are each among the fastest growing states in the country as well as states with no income tax: it is essential that the overall tax burden on state residents does not increase, and that further due to the growth in states with no income tax it is time to identify a responsible transition that eliminates Michigan’s personal income tax.
- Since it is a key screener for opportunity, and regularly among the top five issues for site selectors: Return Michigan to the top of job attraction options and return control to workers’ freedom to choose by reinstating Right to Work.
- Remove barriers for work through reforming licensing regulations.
- Because people’s security will drive many decisions on where to live: The public’s safety must be a top priority. Policies must protect law abiding citizens and respect private property while being smart on crime. Law enforcement must be supported, trained and resourced so they can assure needed staffing for their community and safe neighborhoods for all residents.
- Move the Michigan Economic Development Corporation away from offering incentives and instead to removing barriers. Make the MEDC a one-stop office for current or prospective employers to navigate and receive the approvals they need to create jobs in Michigan with no permit decision to exceed 90 days.
- Reinstate Michigan’s competitiveness by returning requirements for legislative action or special circumstances for regulations more stringent than our neighboring states.
- Since Michigan residents and job providers need reliable and affordable energy to live, learn and work in Michigan: Remove mandates that artificially inflate the costs of energy production and ensure a stable system that produces and delivers consistently as we move to more demand for electricity.
- Because the cost of health care impacts residents, employees and employers, policy should reduce barriers to provider care and restrictions to supply that limit access and elevate costs.
Efficient and Effective Government
- Since the cost of government is borne by the residents and employers in a community, and state budgets continue to set spending records, government services must be prioritized for key services and efficiencies must be gained for effective results. Therefore, the population commission must resist the temptation to seek to expand total government costs and raise the expenses borne by Michigan workers, residents and job providers.
John Kennedy – WMPF Chair