Until last year, when an economic slowdown deteriorated into a full-blown
recession, Michigan was widely acknowledged to be in a position that seemed
impossible barely a decade earlier. The Great Lakes State was enjoying record
low rates of unemployment, a thriving economy, growing educational
opportunities, and a sense of accomplishment and high spirits. After years of a
"Rust Belt" reputation, Michigan was riding high on its favorable image as a
hospitable place to raise a family and start a business.
But even before this recession, all was not perfect. Many Michigan families
still struggled with high tax bills and poor schools. A much-improved
environment could still use a boost from regulatory and other reforms. Michigan
is definitely better off today than it was a short decade ago, but much can yet
be done to make it even better. Schools can improve, taxes can be lowered,
workers can assume greater control over their paychecks, and government can get
smarter at the same time that it gets less intrusive.
New legislative opportunities will soon come with this year's elections for the
Michigan House, Senate, and governorship. In this report, the Mackinac Center
for Public Policy offers dozens of specific ideas for the Legislature and the
governor-current officeholders as well as those who will take office in January
2003-to consider in crafting state policy for the next term and beyond.
The report is divided into eight sections: Strengthening Property Rights
Protection, Improving Environmental Protection, Encouraging Telecommunications
Technology, Reforming Labor Law to Protect Worker Rights, Improving Education
for Michigan Children, Spurring Economic Growth and Development, and Enhancing
the Transportation Infrastructure, plus a miscellaneous section at the end. The
recommendations do not represent the final word, but rather a starting point for
positive public policy change. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy will
continue in the coming months to elaborate on these proposals and suggest others
for a better, freer, and more prosperous Michigan for all citizens.