Policymakers must confront two hard facts about Michigan government programs and spending: First, the state tries to do more things than its revenues can support; second, extracting more revenues will impose a greater burden on Michigan's struggling families and businesses, whose wealth has fallen below national norms. These facts lead to an inescapable conclusion: The state must cut spending.
Unfortunately, state lawmakers have only inched toward this goal. While the governor and the Michigan Legislature have kept some control over the growth of state government spending in recent years, they have been slow to make transformational changes that would promote lasting efficiency in key state activities and eliminate programs better left to local government, the private sector and civil society.[*]
This hesitance may be changing with the national recession and the precipitous decline of the Big Three. This Policy Brief focuses on eight encouraging examples of genuine policy change from Gov. Jennifer Granholm's 2009 State of the State Address and executive budget recommendations for fiscal 2010. The proposals have one thing in common: They had all been previously recommended by analysts at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
The recommendations are admittedly quite modest relative to the reform necessary to revitalize Michigan's economy. They are significant to the extent that they indicate the first stage of recognition of unavoidable economic realities.
[*] A number of proposals for transformational change have been summarized in a pamphlet recently published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. See Jack McHugh, “101 Recommendations to Revitalize Michigan,” (Mackinac Center for Public Policy, 2009), http://www.mackinac.org/archives/2009/S2009-01.pdf, (accessed May 28, 2009).