Executive Summary

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.