Gov. Jennifer Granholm proposed nine expansions of government and six contractions in her spoken State of the State address Feb. 3. A different, longer, more interventionist version of the speech posted on the governor’s Web site showed 16 expansions and six limitations.

This address was a clear improvement over most of Gov. Granholm’s State of the State speeches as measured by both proposed expansions and limitations. Last year, she hit a record-high 24 proposals to expand state government, while proposing only four that would limit state government.

We have examined every State of the State speech back to 1969 and tallied the number of proposed expansions and limitations of each governor. The resulting "scorecard" of gubernatorial proposals can provide insight into the faith each administration places in government’s ability to solve public policy problems.

While this is not an exact science, determining whether a proposal expands or limits state government is usually not too difficult.

Below is a set of historical averages covering the administrations of Governors William Milliken, James Blanchard, John Engler and Jennifer Granholm.

Expansions and Limitations by Administration
since 1969

Gov. Milliken, 1969-1982

Avg.

High

Low

Proposed expansions

5.6

12 (’71, 80)

0 (’74)

Proposed limitations

2.9

8 (’73)

0 (’70, ’79, ’82)

Gov. Blanchard, 1983-1990

Avg.

High

Low

Proposed expansions

8.6

19 (’89, '90)

1 (’85)

Proposed limitations

2.1

7 (’84)

0 (’87, ’88)

Gov. Engler, 1991-2002

Avg.

High

Low

Proposed expansions

8.4

18 (’00)

3 (’91)

Proposed limitations

4.3

11 (’95)

1 (’02, ’97, ’03)

Gov. Granholm, 2003-2009

Avg.

High

Low

Proposed expansions

16.4

24 (’08)

7 (’05)

Proposed limitations

3

6 (’03) (’09)

0 (’05)

The "proposed expansions" average for Gov. Granholm changes to 17.4 if one adopts the written text as posted on the governor’s Web site for the official tally.

The governor’s address proposed a few limitations recommended by Mackinac Center analysts and clearly improved in relation to previous addresses. However, there was still little to indicate that the governor is willing to take the necessary steps to improve Michigan’s deleterious tax and regulatory climate. Until that happens, the state is unlikely to reverse the "severity of the crisis" we face.

Expansions and Contractions in Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s

2009 State of the State Address

Expansions

  1. First, I will ask the Legislature to make Michigan the first state in the nation to let every homeowner, every business, become a renewable energy entrepreneur who can make money by installing solar panels or wind systems on their home or business and selling that renewable energy back to the power company.
  2. Second, I am asking our Public Service Commission to put our utility companies in the energy efficiency business by changing how rates are set.
  3. The third way we’ll create jobs through our aggressive 45-by-20 goal is to create the Michigan Energy Corps to put thousands of unemployed Michigan citizens back to work this year, weatherizing homes, schools and other public buildings, installing renewable energy technology, and turning our abundant natural resources into renewable fuels.
  4. And fourth, we will launch a program called Michigan Saves in conjunction with our utility companies. Michigan Saves will allow Michigan families and businesses to weatherize their homes and install Michigan-made energy efficiency technology with zero up-front charges.
  5. That’s why I have directed the Department of Environmental Quality to evaluate, in consultation with our Public Service Commission, both the need for additional electricity generation and all feasible and prudent alternatives before approving new coal-fired power plants in Michigan.
  6. In the year ahead, we will require other units of government in Michigan – our cities and townships, our counties and school districts, our colleges and universities – to adopt their own Buy Michigan First policies.
  7. Second, with thousands of families across our state facing the threat of home foreclosure, I call on the Legislature to pass the Home Foreclosure Prevention Act to give families 90 days to work out new financing for their homes without fear of foreclosure.
  8. If an insurance company refuses to freeze rates during this 12-month period, I am directing the Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation to use every administrative tool at its disposal to assure fair and affordable rates for Michigan consumers.
  9. … reinvest in more law enforcement on the street.

Limitations

  1. Today, the Lt. Governor and I have directed the State Officers Compensation Commission to reduce the salaries of all state elected officials in Michigan by 10 percent.
  2. I will recommend eliminating virtually all earmarks.
  3. I will recommend eliminating funding for both state fairs, because while they are a wonderful tradition, the state fairs are not an essential purpose of government.
  4. I will recommend eliminating the Department of History, Arts and Libraries and finding other means to support these important functions.
  5. I will recommend returning enforcement of wetlands protections to the federal government where more staff exists to effectively safeguard our natural resources.
  6. I will recommend additional reforms to our justice system that bring down the cost of corrections …

Expansions listed in the written text

  1. This year, our Michigan Economic Development Corporation will launch a competition among Michigan universities to develop a comprehensive statewide plan to use our higher education system to maximize entrepreneurial activity in Michigan.
  2. Thanks to the $98.6 million we were allocated through the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program, the Land Bank and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority will dedicate up to $20 million dollars to help cities demolish even more of these dangerous eyesores and help return their sites into productive assets.
  3. In the year ahead, the land bank will offer property for free to any business creating at least 20 green energy jobs in Michigan.
  4. This year, the State Land Bank will partner with local governments to assemble publicly-owned property to create urban farms.
  5. This year, we will launch a Michigan College Access Network that will bring together foundations, business and labor organizations, the faith-based community, our K-12 schools and our higher education institutions to get all Michigan students on the path to education after high school.
  6. The Healthy Kids, Healthy Michigan initiative, lead by Michigan’s Surgeon General, has established the first-ever, five-year strategic policy plan to address childhood obesity in our communities and our schools. This policy agenda includes targeted approaches that will improve public health by increasing access to physical activity and healthy food choices. Tonight, I am charging the Departments of Community Health, Agriculture, Education, Human Services, Energy, Labor & Economic Growth, and Transportation to work together to begin implementation of the year-one policy agenda.
  7. Tonight, I am also renewing the call for Michigan to finally join the 34 other states that have banned smoking in public places.

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