We’re better. But we’re still not best.
It’s time to use the strategies that have turned Michigan around to build on what’s been achieved and accelerate our pace of progress. We must invest in our communities and the people who call this state home—one filled with as many as 26,000 more jobs and $13,000 more income per person. Below are the strategies that will make it happen. Download the full plan here.
Compete for Good Jobs
To become a “Top Ten” state, Michigan must not only create jobs, but good ones.
The state must establish an environment that recognizes the challenges of an increasingly competitive and global economy by encouraging and supporting entrepreneurship and growth. These conditions allow businesses to thrive, and create opportunities that sustain families and communities.
While Michigan currently falls in the bottom half of states in overall business climate rankings, it remains in the top 15 states for corporate and business taxes. These data suggest that Michigan must continue to focus on maintaining competitive tax structures while streamlining and improving its regulatory environment. By improving the overall business climate, the state can create the competitive conditions needed to deliver: (i) the high-quality job opportunities that generate greater economic security for families, and (ii) stronger productivity and economic output for employers.
Every state is fighting for good jobs. To compete, Michigan must advance innovative and effective tax, regulatory, energy, and investment strategies that will produce sustained employment growth and long-term economic development.
- Maintain a competitive state tax climate and continue to modernize Michigan’s tax system:
- Reflect changes in the composition of the economy and adopt broad, fair and flat taxes wherever practical.
- Maintain competitive energy costs.
- Determine the impact of property taxes on Michigan’s competitiveness.
- Continue improving the state’s regulatory environment:
- Require state agencies to publicly disclose information about planned regulatory actions on a monthly basis and engage stakeholders early in the regulatory process.
- Require a plan to evaluate the effectiveness of major rules.
- Designate a lead agency to have primary responsibility for coordinating reviews of a project, and ensure that permits are processed by multiple agencies in parallel and according to a firm schedule (e.g., 180 days).
- Create an inventory of pending permits by agency and program, and expand online dashboards to track the status of permits for all major projects and provide links to relevant documents.
- Support comprehensive federal regulatory reform (consistent with recommendations outlined by the national Business Roundtable):
- Objectively analyze costs and benefits of proposed and final major rules from agencies, including independent regulatory commissions.
- Publicly disclose information about planned regulatory actions on a monthly basis and engage stakeholders early in the regulatory process.
- Ensure every major rule includes a plan for how the agency will evaluate its effectiveness over time.
- Congress should consider other changes to the Administrative Procedure Act, particularly relating to the content of the rulemaking record and greater judicial scrutiny of that record.
- Provide competitive state economic development support:
- Act cohesively to attract and grow more good jobs across Michigan by building greater alignment among stakeholders on: (i) the importance of a strong state economy, (ii) the role of economic development, and (iii) the importance of consistent, competitive policies.
- Utilize the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s public-private structure to strengthen the role the private sector could play to help Michigan attract talent, investment and good jobs.
- Ensure economic development is consistently funded at competitive levels and that Michigan maintains competitive and effective economic development tools.
- Emphasize the growth of all businesses—large, small & start-ups.
- Maintain strong global trade and export support services to support Michigan business growth.
- Reinforce the Michigan Economic Development Corporation as a single point of contact for business talent needs:
- Drive a customer-centered approach to service delivery through the coordination of job training services for new or expanding businesses as part of the state’s economic development program.
- Facilitate collaboration and sharing of best practices among job training service providers and navigate programs and partners for new or expanding businesses.
- Provide on-demand job training to meet the needs of employers expanding or relocating to Michigan at the time, place, and schedule that meets their needs.
- Accelerate the speed of delivering on-demand job training by regularly anticipating high-demand employer skill requirements to develop customized training solutions.
- Promote the Jobs Ready Michigan brand for on-demand job training to strengthen Michigan’s reputation of delivering these services.
- Examine every federal- and state-funded job training program to ensure resources are fully leveraged to respond to employer needs.
Maintain Financial Stability
Coming out of the Great Recession, Michigan’s fiscal health was poor and required a decade of hard work and tough choices to improve. As Michigan’s economy continues to recover, it remains essential for the state to: (i) effectively and efficiently manage its resources, and (ii) ensure the hard-fought gains result in a sounder financial foundation with less volatility and uncertainty for taxpayers.
While the state has seen steady economic gains in the last decade, Michigan’s economy is held back by severe pension and other post-employment benefit (OPEB) liabilities at the local level. Michigan also has far more units of government than most other states, which requires more tax dollars to support the overhead costs of operations.
Michigan must continue to identify and implement fiscal best practices, including long-term strategic planning and multi-year budgeting. These changes will encourage cost-effective service delivery and promote financial stability at the state and local levels. These policies also will ensure the state maintains and improves its fiscal health, which is critical not only for sustainable growth, but also for protection against the negative impacts of any future economic downturn.
- Maintain sound state fiscal best practices by continuing to:
- Propose performance-based and multi-year budgets.
- Complete budgets by July 1.
- Adopt a long-term strategic plan, fiscal notes that estimate the cost of proposed legislation, and a citizen-friendly balance sheet.
- Continue paying down state unfunded liabilities:
- Shift local government and school system retirees 65 and older to Medicare and early retirees to health care exchanges with stipends to maintain promised heath care benefits.
- Reduce state and local corrections costs:
- Adopt evidence-based practices that reduce recidivism and lengths of stay of non-violent offenders, such as treatment courts, medical parole and vocational training.
- Strengthen local fiscal best practices:
- Prevent local fiscal emergencies by precluding local governments from offering defined benefit retirement plans and retiree health care benefits to new hires.
- Enhance certification and professional development requirements for local government finance staff and provide state support for training.
- Encourage and expand local government service sharing.
Invest in People
While it is critical for the state to focus on fostering an environment that will support economic growth and encourage business investment in the high-quality, rewarding jobs of the future, it is equally important for Michigan to invest in its greatest resource: the people that call this state home.
Michigan has made small improvements in fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade math proficiency, and yet we remain near the bottom when compared to other states. Many students graduate without being college- and career-ready. If we cannot ensure that our children are able to read, write, do math, and graduate prepared to succeed after high school, not only will the next generation be unprepared to compete in a global economy, but businesses will continue to struggle to fill positions and the state’s economic growth will be limited. Michigan must harness the power of its people by investing in strategies that will ensure that every student in our state has access to a best-in-class education, is connected to career opportunities, and can enter the workforce ready to compete.
In addition to promoting education policies that ensure every child is ready to learn and advance, the state should implement strategies for supporting talent attraction by ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and supporting individuals facing barriers to employment.
- Ensure every child is ready to learn and advance:
- Maximize support for teachers, including: (i) promoting the profession, and (ii) providing robust training opportunities, up to date classroom technologies, and relevant student data.
- Develop high standards for initially certifying teachers and establish ongoing evaluations of teachers for competency and effectiveness based on student progress and performance.
- Maximize support for principals, including providing robust training opportunities to ensure effective leadership.
- Maintain high student standards, with a focus on math, literacy and science to prepare each student for their path of choice after the 12th grade, including college, technical training or immediate career.
- Improve literacy outcomes for K–3 students.
- Maintain and strengthen the M-STEP assessment, and then maintain year-over-year test administration to obtain relevant data to assist teachers.
- Explore a competency-based learning model to prepare students for 21st-century careers.
- Support and maintain a uniform set of performance and accountability standards for all schools, school management and leadership that accounts for student growth relative to level of proficiency.
- Adopt improvement strategies and provide the necessary support to remediate results where necessary.
- Allocate any significant new funding based on relative school progress, performance, and equity.
- Build better and more aligned support from educators, business, parents, government, and philanthropy.
- Hold every level of the K–12 education system accountable for the role it plays in student outcomes. This includes school leadership and management, the Michigan Department of Education, the Governor and the Legislature.
- Support Launch Michigan, a diverse partnership of education, labor, business and philanthropic organizations committed to establishing a shared agenda to ensure all Michigan students receive a best-in-class education.
- Support a state constitutional amendment requiring the Department of Education report to the Governor to improve accountability.
- Become a “Top Ten” state for dollars going to the classroom by determining the true cost to educate all students equitably and the effectiveness of Michigan’s current spending model:
- Increase integration of reporting requirements.
- Establish detailed funding and non-instructional spending and staffing benchmarks.
- Encourage local education agency utilization of intermediate school district shared services.
- Establish a state-wide pre-approved list of IT systems.
- Centralize specific non-instructional activities into intermediate school district support centers.
- Create a state-wide capital cost fund to support capital projects.
- Centralize all non-instructional activities into intermediate school district support centers.
- Consolidate the administration and back-office operations of small local education agencies.
- Balance the number of local education agencies and public school academies.
- Improve the connections between education, training and careers:
- Provide parents and students with the information they need to make good career choices and select the best education and training pathways by increasing career counseling services and starting them upon high school enrollment.
- Increase opportunities for high school and college students to participate in school-to-work transition experiences.
- Increase employer participation in identifying workforce needs and developing workforce development strategies.
- Require training providers, community colleges and universities to track graduate placement results, job provider satisfaction and non-degree outcomes.
- Encourage the utilization of apprenticeships for high-demand jobs.
- Increase the number of workers with an education and training beyond high school:
- Increase in- and out-of-state college enrollment and completion rates without reducing in-state access:
- Support a marketing program to recruit out-of-state students and increase in-state enrollment.
- Increase the availability/use of high-value sub-degree certificates, transferability of credits, dual credits, and career guidance services.
- Continue to increase at-risk student enrollment and graduation rates.
- Structure financial aid as an incentive to degree or certificate completion while encouraging public service and/or working in Michigan.
- Achieve “Top Ten” community college and university affordability:
- Provide per student funding for public universities and community colleges comparable to “Top Ten” levels if universities or colleges meet or exceed the performance of top quintile peers on specific outcome-based metrics.
- Increase the available amount of state student aid.
- Expand the use of new course delivery methods and increase administrative efficiency through greater cross-institutional collaboration of back-office and support operations.
- Improve the competitiveness of Michigan’s community college governance system, finances and outcomes.
- Increase in- and out-of-state college enrollment and completion rates without reducing in-state access:
- Grow Michigan’s population and increase labor force participation:
- Prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, like we do for race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, height, weight, familial status, marital status, or disability.
- Attract skilled immigrants and facilitate their relocation transitions:
- Increase the number of H-1B visas.
- Issue H-1B training grants to train American workers for which companies now rely on foreign nationals.
- Exempt from the annual cap H-1B workers who have degrees in needed fields by U.S. universities.
- Allow individuals with advanced STEM degrees from U.S. universities to qualify immediately for a green card to work and live in the U.S.
- Establish a manageable legal system for workers who may not have higher education but are needed for specific sectors, including agriculture, hospitality and construction.
- Adopt innovative strategies to attract immigrants to cities experiencing significant population loss, shortages of trained and capable talent and lack of economic growth sufficient to engage the chronic un- and underemployed.
- Increase hiring of populations facing barriers to employment, including persons with disabilities, who may require additional accommodations, as well as veterans, returning citizens, and people from disadvantaged backgrounds, who may require additional training and support.
Build Strong Communities
Our state is only as strong as its communities. Building connected, empowered, healthy, and diverse communities is challenging, but Michigan must invest in safe and reliable infrastructure that can bring people together and leverage the wealth of community assets across the state.
Currently the state falls near the bottom of most infrastructure rankings, including road and bridge conditions. Recent state projections show that without significant and consistent investment in these areas, the state’s infrastructure will not only continue to deteriorate, but will decay at an accelerating rate. The time is now for the state to identify and invest in a sustainable strategy for improving and maintaining the state’s critical infrastructure.
Whether it is building roads and bridges, ensuring every resident has access to clean water, or expanding broadband, Michigan must adequately and effectively invest in the infrastructure strong families, communities, and businesses are built on. While focusing on connecting and strengthening its communities, the state should also recognize, leverage, and protect the distinct assets that make them unique. If we make these investments, the benefits will accrue both in the short term and for generations to come. But if we continue to fall behind, the state will have severely limited its economic growth and squandered an opportunity to once again lead the nation in infrastructure development.
- Prioritize infrastructure investments based on economic, health, and safety risks, with transportation and water systems given highest priority:
- Maintain a statewide non-partisan, multi-infrastructure council composed of professional subject-matter experts to recommend strategic prioritization of investments, maximize capture of federal dollars, facilitate public-private partnerships, oversee a coordinated asset management system, and possibly coordinate projects of state significance.
- Reward regional and cross-functional coordination and resultant efficiencies.
- Maintain contractor warranties on work.
- Support federal investments in infrastructure, consistent with the principles outlined in this section.
- Provide sufficient funding to ensure at least “good” and—ideally—”best” quality infrastructure conditions:
- Increase revenues from users of the infrastructure—which means all of us—to close Michigan’s $4 billion annual investment gap. General purpose taxes (e.g., sales and income taxes) that fund the balance of state government should not be utilized.
- Ensure funding is sustainable and dedicated.
- Design user fees to reflect the true cost of service, including the replacement or rehabilitation of aging infrastructure.
- Consider a renewable bond program and/or regional assessment to fund one-time or recurring needs that cannot be reasonably addressed through user-based funding. However, the revenue source should not adversely impact other critical priorities that help create jobs, such as job training, higher education, and economic development.
- Consider alternative financing methods, such as public-private partnerships.
- Improve electric grid reliability and reduce power outages.
- Promote expanded availability of broadband to underserved rural and urban areas.
- Develop strategies that promote the development of affordable housing and enable workers to have access to available jobs.
- Develop and implement strategies for sustainably protecting and managing the Great Lakes for future generations.
- Empower regions. Allow regions to fund regional assets by referendum without state pre-authorization, such as transit systems, parks and cultural amenities.
Leverage Our Strengths
Every state has unique assets that give it opportunities to grow jobs and increase productivity. Michigan has more than most other states, especially given our proximity to the Great Lakes and Canada. And yet we have failed to leverage these unique assets as much as we could have. If we seize these opportunities, we’ll advance our growth to “Top Ten” status quickly.
Maintaining leadership and expanding the impact of these key growth industries not only requires doubling down on successful efforts already underway, but also making significant, strategic, and consistent investments in innovation.
- Adopt strategies to accelerate the growth of Michigan’s key economic strengths.
- Engineering services
- Automotive/mobility sector
- High-tech manufacturing
- Higher education & start-up creation
- Medical device engineering & manufacturing
- Tourism & agriculture
- Designate the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to coordinate growth strategies occurring at the state, regional, and local level.
- Consider dedicating a revenue source to fund and sustain long-term implementation of the growth strategies.
- Support a federal mobility public-private partnership to:
- Advance research, development, and deployment of connected and automated technology.
- Adopt legal and voluntary technical standards that lead the world.
- Develop the talent needed to grow the industry.
- Leverage distinct assets in urban and rural areas:
- Ensure that both urban and rural communities have an opportunity to benefit from the growth strategies described above.
- Support a small number of community- or regionally-led strategies designed to accelerate the growth of innovation-based businesses.
- Grow Michigan’s entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem by leveraging our R&D base and universities:
- Encourage higher education to play a greater role in economic development:
- Develop economic development programs that leverage each institution’s greatest potential impact on the local economy and develop a means to share best practices across institutions.
- Provide matching funds to enable universities to more aggressively attract federal research.
- Support increasing federal R&D investments to at least the rate of GDP growth and ideally to twice this rate to accelerate the growth of innovation and Michigan’s economic strengths.
- Become a “Top Ten” state for the availability of venture capital to invest in Michigan-based start-ups and fast growth companies.