Governor proposes 20 expansions
of government, 2 limitations

Governors use their annual State of the State address to unveil their agenda for the state, using the high-profile event to garner support from policymakers and residents alike. Although they tend to be filled with rhetoric and verbal flourishes, the items that the state’s chief executive highlights in the speech indicate the priorities he or she will pursue in the coming year.

In an effort to more clearly identify Michigan governors’ key objectives, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy has reviewed State of the State addresses going back to 1969, tallied the proposed initiatives and categorized them as either expansions or limitations of government.

In her fifth State of the State address, delivered Tuesday night, Gov. Jennifer Granholm proposed 20 new expansions of state government and two limitations. Since proposals are often vague and short on details, any attempt to determine the exact number of new initiatives will clearly be unscientific. But even when ambiguous, it’s often easy to identify the proposals that are new and expansive or aimed at curtailing existing government programs.

In the previous four years, Gov. Granholm proposed 62 new expansions of government (a single-term record) and 10 limitations.

Expansions

  1. "A second way we will accelerate diversification of our economy is to increase our investment in marketing Michigan both for tourism and business."

  2. "I also urge you to finally pass the small business retirement plan I introduced at this podium last year ... I urge you to pass them now."

  3. "Last year, there were 505 applications for grants from our 21st Century Jobs Fund – each offering to turn new ideas into new business growth and new jobs. … And this year, we’ll fund even more that meet our high standards."

  4. "Tonight I am announcing that we will begin an aggressive, three-year effort to attract even more alternative energy companies to Michigan through more than $100 million in combined public-private investments."

  5. "Next, I will ask this Legislature to set ambitious goals for our state, so that within eight years, a minimum of 10 percent of our energy will come from renewable sources. And we will double that goal in the decade after that."

  6. "I will also ask you to expand alternative energy renaissance zones to attract new solar and wind energy companies."

  7. "Tonight I am proposing a change to revenue-sharing payments to local governments. Cities and townships that want to see their revenue sharing increase this year will need to show us they are sharing services or consolidating with other units of government to save taxpayers money."

  8. "My budget proposal will include incentives for districts to consolidate their business service in the coming school year."

  9. "To do this we are stepping up background checks for any adult who lives in a foster care home and adding more child protective services workers to our ranks."

  10. "We’ll add more workers to ensure that children are placed in safe, permanent homes. We will aggressively monitor foster homes, and we will demand more accountability from anyone who plays a role in this system."

  11. "And for next year, I will propose an increase in our investment in education."

  12. "At the same time, I will increase our expectations of schools."

  13. "We’ll begin with an important expansion of early education. We’ll provide new funding to school districts to offer a full day of pre-school to some 26,000 four-year-olds in districts that provide full day kindergarten."

  14. "At the same time, I’ll ask this Legislature to require all students to attend kindergarten. It’s hard to believe — in fact, it’s ridiculous — that we don’t require it today."

  15. "I’d also like you to fix another absurd law by requiring all students to attend school until they are 18 ... I hope you will join with me and support the bills sponsored by Senator Brater and Representative Lemons (sic)."

  16. "For the next three years, a one-time offer: We will provide free community college tuition to unemployed workers who want to learn the skills needed to fill high-demand jobs."

  17. "Tonight we are launching the Michigan Nursing Corps, an initiative to train new nurses."

  18. "And insured or not, we know that working in a smoke-filled environment is bad for your health and expensive for all of us. Tonight I call on you to take action. The time has come for us to ban smoking in the workplace." *

  19. "And because strong cities must be safe cities, our budget this year will increase our investment to hire more police officers and firefighters in Michigan cities."

  20. "So tonight I am proposing legislation to establish "Promise Zones" that will help our distressed communities create public-private partnerships to replicate the generosity of the Kalamazoo Promise."

Limitations

  1. "We can also improve the quality of health care in Michigan and give our economy a boost by removing the barriers to embryonic stem cell research, which could help thousands of people afflicted with life threatening and debilitating diseases."

  2. "Again this year, my budget will call for hundreds of millions of dollars in spending cuts, many of them painful. But those cuts are necessary to be able to afford the investment that will grow our economy."

*This item was in the governor’s official State of the State transcript, but left out of her delivered remarks.

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Michael LaFaive is director of the Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a research and educational institute headquartered in Midland, Mich. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the authors and the Center are properly cited.