Michigan is faced with a financial crisis due to a projected budget overspending crisis approaching $2 billion for this fiscal year. It is understandable that a newly elected governor and Legislature are preoccupied with stopping the fiscal bleeding. Republican leaders are arguing that the state budget can be balanced with spending cuts. Democratic leaders are arguing that spending cuts alone are too drastic and will result in an unacceptable reduction in state services and that cuts must be accompanied by revenue increases – political speak for tax increases.
State leaders need to be mindful that balancing the state budget is only one side of a two-sided coin in regards to state fiscal policy. Enacting state policies that foster economic growth is equally important if the state is going break the cycle of annual fiscal crises. If Michigan is to regain economic vitality it will require both spending reductions as well as job growth.
Future job growth in the state requires the fundamental restructuring of the current oppressive regulatory system that serves as an effective barrier to job creation. Government does not create jobs, but bad government policies can certainly destroy the opportunity for private-sector job creation. A good place to start is for our elected leaders to quickly take the following action:
- Lift the moratorium on new coal fired power plants.
- Repeal the 10 percent renewable energy standard.
- Reform the state environmental regulatory bureaucracy by implementing recommendations found in “Environmental Regulation in Michigan: A Blueprint for Reform,” such as mandatory timeframes for issuing permits, contracting with the private sector for certain permitting functions and returning dysfunctional programs like wetland permitting to the federal government.
Michigan residents have a reasonable expectation that elected officials can do more than one thing at time. It is time for our leaders to meet those expectations.