Executive Summary

The close of the twentieth century finds Michigan in a position that seemed impossible barely a decade ago. The Great Lakes State is currently enjoying record low rates of unemployment, a thriving economy, growing educational opportunities, and a sense of accomplishment and high spirits. After years of a negative "Rust Belt" reputation, Michigan is now riding high on its favorable image as a hospitable place to raise a family and start a business.

But the current good news does not mean that all is well. Many Michigan families still struggle with high tax bills and poor schools. Good times are no reason for either the Legislature or the Governor to rest on their laurels—on the contrary, good times often provide the best opportunities to make long-term, positive changes. Michigan is definitely a more prosperous place today than it was a short decade ago, but much can yet be done to make it even better. Schools can improve, taxes can get lower, workers can assume greater control over their paychecks, and government can get smarter at the same time that it gets smaller.

New legislative opportunities come with the Michigan House, Senate, and Governorship in the control of a single party—and so do new responsibilities. In this report, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy staff and Board of Scholars offer dozens of specific ideas for the new Legislature and the Governor to consider in crafting state policy for the next term and beyond.

The report is divided into five sections: Strengthening Property Rights Protection, Reforming Labor Law to Protect Worker Rights, Improving Education for Michigan Children, Spurring Economic Growth and Development, and Enhancing the Transportation Infrastructure. The recommendations in each of these five sections do not represent the final word, but rather a good starting point for positive public policy change. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy will continue in the coming months to elaborate on these proposals for a better, freer, and more prosperous Michigan for all citizens.