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*A point often lost in the debate over changes to health care: The status quo is not exactly peachy for many people.

“Between 2006 and 2011, the cost of a private sector employer sponsored family premium in Michigan rose an average of 2.1 percent per year, adjusting for inflation. In 2003, the combined employee and employer share of health insurance premiums in Michigan were 14.6 percent of household income and by 2011, this figure rose to 20.0 percent. This means that health care costs are growing faster than wages.”

The nonpartisan, nonprofit Citizens Research Council of Michigan recently released an analysis of the health-care market in Michigan and policy options to address little matters like health costs exceeding income growth. Read it all here.

*While we are on the subject on less-than-positive health-care news:

“More than 150,000 Michiganians stand to lose health coverage if the state Legislature fails to expand Medicaid coverage. The low-income residents are covered by county health plans that provide last-resort medical care for childless adults. But federal funding for the plans will start to dry up in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act."

* Flint Mayor Dayne Walling describes a problem Michigan must solve: "We do need to be more efficient in Flint, of course, but there is much more to the story of how our annual retiree-related costs, across all funds, have come to total nearly the same size as the city's general fund (emphasis added) -- an unaffordable yet required expense that results in reduced city services and the resulting decline in quality of life."

land-o-FINAL*New Jersey under Gov. Chris Christie went big for tax incentives to attract new development. Many of the results have fueled criticism, though:

“Since 2010, according to a Governing analysis of New Jersey records, at least 20 companies receiving incentives filed layoff notices while they were still subject to grant terms with the state. Verizon Communications, one of the top beneficiaries, has netted about $60 million in incentives over the past decade. Yet the telecom giant laid off 336 New Jersey employees last year as demand for landline phones withered. Biotech firm ImClone Systems laid off 141 workers in 2010, not long after the state approved incentives worth an estimated $32 million for its Branchburg headquarters.”

The Michigan Economic Development Program touts $175 million annually is available to businesses for incentives. See the complete list of Michigan’s business aid programs here.

*Some haunting photos of an underwater forest in a mountainous area outside Almaty, the largest city in  Kazakhstan.

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