By Doug Rothwell/Business Leaders for Michigan
Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed budget for 2014 offers new promise for Michigan.
Now that our fiscal house is in order, thanks to an eradication of old accounting gimmicks and heavy debt obligations, our state is positioned to make good choices about its future investments. The options we pursue today will define our state generations from now. That is why Michigan’s business leaders applaud the recommendations the governor put forth on behalf of education and infrastructure:
Helping every child succeed. The governor made early childhood education a strong priority for next year’s budget, in recognition of research demonstrating that significant brain development occurs during the first five years of life. By strengthening the opportunities available to young learners, this year’s budget can begin building a track record of support for future generations of Michigan residents.
Supporting community colleges and higher education. The governor also offered additional support for higher education based on performance. This is particularly heartening, given Michigan’s decades of disinvestment in its colleges and universities which has made it more expensive for our students to get the quality education they need. Michigan needs educated workers — to the tune of 900,000 college graduates by the year 2020 — and we’re not going to arrive at those levels without investing more in higher education.
Rebuilding our infrastructure. Finally, Michigan’s business community is pleased to see the governor and the Legislature making a commitment to finding a comprehensive funding solution for our roads and bridges. A number of options are on the table for finding the revenue we need to strengthen our infrastructure.
Business Leaders for Michigan supports a long-term funding solution with some elasticity that provides a revenue stream to allow us to repair our state’s infrastructure and meet our future needs.
These proposals align with our Michigan Turnaround Plan, which focused heavily on structural change that lasts and was developed in response to our collective need to shore up the state’s financial and management structure and begin building for the future. Michigan has profound resources — natural, intellectual, and industrial — that can position us well to compete and become a Top Ten state for job, personal income and economic growth. To make those resources work for us, we must carefully nurture and invest in them.
We are at a pivotal moment in Michigan’s history. We are in the midst of a recovery. We urge the people of Michigan to support our leaders as they prioritize state spending to propel Michigan forward.