This question is taken from Business Leaders for Michigan’s one-page tool for voters, “10 Questions Every Voter Should Ask Candidates Running for State Office.” The questions address the most urgent issues facing all Michiganders – the economy and jobs.
Ask your candidate, “Will you support a pay as you go policy that would prevent the state from adopting new programs without being able to pay for them?”
Why is this question important?
When Michigan was a wealthy state, it could afford to fund all programs well and not set priorities. But with per capita income at 37th in the nation, we are now a relatively poor state, and need to set spending priorities that will re-grow the state’s economy. Since 2000, state tax revenue has declined or been flat. However, the state has continued to add new programs, which has exacerbated budget shortfalls while state revenues have declined. Unless revenues increase or other program expenses are reduced, the state should not be adding new programs that create additional unsustainable spending pressures.
Here are some answers voters should look for from candidates for State office:
In its Michigan Turnaround Plan, Business Leaders for Michigan proposes that legislators adopt no new programs unless eliminating others or revenues grow. This will help instill fiscal discipline and put the state back on a sustainable budgetary path. To help with adopting priorities, the state could:
- Adopt a strategic plan with clear goals, expected outcomes and metrics.
- Require fiscal notes for all new legislation and regulations estimating the implementation costs on government and business.
- Adopt zero-based or similar budgeting systems to increase results.
- Adopt no new programs unless eliminating others or revenues grow.