Gov. Granholm Proposes 14 Expansions of Government, 6 Limitations

Well Short of Engler’s Record 18 and Blanchard’s Record 19 Expansions

For Immediate Release

MIDLAND – Gov. Granholm this evening proposed 14 expansions and 6 limitations of government in her first State of the State address. Her number of prospective new and expanded functions of government was fewer than the 18 proposed by Republican John Engler and the 19 by James Blanchard in their 2000 and 1990 addresses, respectively.

Her 14 proposed expansions of government is a higher number than the average number proposed by former Govs. Engler, Blanchard, and Milliken in their annual addresses. The six limitations she proposed is also a higher number than that proposed, on average, by those predecessors.

At a time when Michigan faces a record projected state budget deficit of $1.8 billion, the relatively high number of proposed limitations on the cost of government is not surprising.

Mackinac Center Director of Fiscal Policy Michael LaFaive said, "Based on this speech, Gov. Granholm deserves the profiles in courage award for focusing on spending instead of tax increases. But since we don’t know the price tag for all her new programs, all we can say is that her spending cuts will have to be even deeper than if she had refrained from proposing so many new initiatives."

LaFaive said, "At some point the governor is going to have to get specific about where she intends to cut and by how much. The Mackinac Center will be recommending more than a billion dollars in spending cuts soon."

"Governor Granholm should also be commended for acknowledging the vital role of civil society, including volunteers, private-sector partnerships, businesses, and families," said LaFaive.

"Tallying proposed expansions and limitations of government in State of the State addresses is an inexact science," said Mackinac Center Executive Vice President Joseph Lehman. "The speeches aren’t intended to include a lot of detail on spending or personnel changes. Time will tell if her initiatives are large or small. Some of the ideas she mentioned might be parts of larger programs. But it’s not hard to tell if a certain proposal amounts to more government, or less of it," he said.

Expansions and limitations were not evaluated for their beneficial or harmful effects.

Gov. Granholm’s proposed 14 expansions and 6 limitations were identified by the Mackinac Center as follows:


  1. "I will officially open...a Governor’s Constituent Services division...."

  2. "I have committed my administration to create a Technology Tri-Corridor" to focus new business recruitment in life sciences, the auto industry, and homeland security.

  3. "We will begin with Project Great Start..." to increase learning in children from birth to age five.

  4. "I will ask each...state department that impacts the lives of our children to...form the Children’s Action Network...," to coordinate department policies, support parental education, and child reading goals.

  5. "I am announcing the creation of the Governor’s Education Technology Fund..." to provide educators with on-line professional development.

  6. "We will team high schools with early childhood centers to supply volunteers to children for half an hour of reading a day."

  7. "I will ask all of our school districts to volunteer to make 40 hours of community service a requirement for graduation...."

  8. "I urge you in the Legislature to adopt legislation..." that would raise the compulsory school attendance age to 18, and prohibit the issuance of drivers licenses to those who do not comply.

  9. "We’ll fund these [Great Lakes, Great Hopes] scholarships with private donations today,..." and add tax dollars to them later when the fiscal situation improves.

  10. <li."We have submitted...a waiver request...asking for federal funds to expand our Elder Insurance [prescription] Coverage Program."
  11. "I am asking this pass legislation..." to prevent certain types of solid waste from entering landfills.

  12. "I will push for a Michigan water protection statute to prevent the diversion of all our waters."

  13. "I am establish a bipartisan Commission on Land Use...."

  14. I will create the position of Advisor for Homeland Security...."


  1. "I have already asked my department directors to cut their budgets by at least 4 percent...."

  2. "I am asking the Legislature to pass an Executive Order that will carve $158 million from the General Fund budget...."

  3. "I will request that the Administrative Board...hold up contracts that represent a major expense."

  4. "I have asked my department directors to cut contractual at least 7 percent."

  5. "I am cutting the fleet of state vehicles by 1,000 cars, calling in cell phones and credit cards, stopping subscriptions, color copying, and pay stub mailings."

  6. "I have directed each state agency to use up every pad of paper and sheet of stationery...even if my predecessor’s name is on them."

Statistics on the past 35 years of State of the State addresses include:

Milliken, 1969 - 1982


Proposed expansions:

Avg: 5.6

High: 12 (’71, ’80)

Low: 0 (’74)


Proposed limitations:

Avg: 2.9 

High: 8 (’73)

Low: 0 (’70, ’79, ’82)


Blanchard, 1983 - 1990


Proposed expansions:

Avg: 8.6 

High: 19 (’89, ’90)

Low: 1 (’85)


Proposed limitations:

Avg: 2.1 

High: 7 (’84)

Low: 0 (’87, ’88)


Engler, 1991 - 2002


Proposed expansions:

Avg: 8.4 

High: 18 (2000)

Low: 3 (’91)


Proposed limitations:

Avg: 4.3 

High: 11 (’95)

Low: 1 (’02, ’97, ’03)


Granholm, 2003 -


Proposed expansions:

Avg: 14 

High: 14

Low: 14


Proposed limitations:

Avg: 6 

High: 6

Low: 6

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute. The Center undertook the analysis of speeches to give citizens a sense of the historical trend in how governors present their plans in official State of the State addresses.