Blog: Nancy Short

It's no accident that Governor Snyder's delivery of the State of the State address today coincides with this week's writings by Nancy Short, deputy manager of appointments in the Office of Governor Snyder. Nancy will be discussing how the administration will translate the outcomes of Michigan's Community Conversations into action, as well as distinct new opportunities on the horizon.

Post 3: The State Answers Its Citizens

There was no time wasted in getting to work. Many of us came in on Sunday to set up our offices and be ready to hit the ground running (after all, the Governor had told us to expect to work in dog years) first thing Monday morning.  I'm delighted to report that we had made appointments before the week closed and the rest of the divisions were moving right along, including preparing for the second earliest State of the State in history.  It feels wonderful to be surrounded by deeply motivated individuals who truly care about Michigan and our collective future.

The first two and a half weeks literally flew by!  I couldn't believe that the State of the State was upon us so quickly.  This year the State of the State was a little different – it was very task and goal oriented, much like me, so of course I loved it.  How do I think the 10,000+ citizens reacted?   

They asked to "hold politicians – and ourselves – more accountable".  The Michigan Dashboard will do just that, gauging and measuring our state's progress of 21 measures in five key areas – Economic Growth, Health & Education, Quality of Life, Value for Government, and Public Safety.   These are the five areas identified as priorities in reinventing Michigan.  Citizens can monitor the state's progress, as well as their progress as citizens taking an active role in the reinvention, on the Michigan Dashboard.

The Conversation participants asked to "create a more business friendly, entrepreneurial environment".  They should be thrilled with what they heard!  The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) will be creating new, vibrant regional economic partnerships that rely on the talent, resources, and assets at the local level to reinvent our state.  Economic development and workforce development will be connected in a more formal way, building better and stronger partnerships with our tremendous resources of universities, colleges, technical centers and the business community to create a talent portal.  

Note to Conversation participants: this also falls in line with "change how and what schools teach"!  Not only will the MEDC be creating the vibrant regional economic partnerships, they will also be focusing efforts on building businesses that are already here by directing our existing resources to our Michigan-based talent and companies – known as "economic gardening" as opposed to "economic hunting" (note again, Conversation participants, this ends "picking winners and losers" and "builds on Michigan's distinctive and competitive assets"!).  

An agenda item which resonated during the Conversations was to "overhaul the Michigan tax system for the 21st century".  Governor Snyder will present a budget message mid-February which will include a restructuring of Michigan taxes, including the repeal of the Michigan Business Tax and replacement with a 6% corporate income tax.

As the Conversation participants urged, it is imperative that every tax dollar is spent wisely and effectively to get the maximum value for money, to "develop and execute transparent and strategic budget solutions".  First, there will be no more gimmicks to fix the budget.  The budget proposal will be presented on February 15, a full month before required by law.  Second, Governor Snyder requested a commitment to adopt a real and balanced budget for state government and schools by May 31.  (Yes Conversation participants, that does speak to "transform education operations and funding"!)  The look on the faces of the members of the legislature when hearing of the 5/31 deadline was priceless!  Tough choices don't get any easier the longer the state waits, in fact they might just become more costly.  

Those "strategic budget solutions" that the 10,000+ desired?  Look no further than the
Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC).  No matter what your personal or political views on this subject of DRIC are, one can't deny that it isn't a brilliantly strategic solution!  Private sector investment will be used to build the bridge itself, with Canada offering $550 million for the construction of the U.S. portion – to be fully recouped from toll revenue.  The $550 million is an investment in our infrastructure toward the federal matching funds.  Michigan taxpayers won't take on debt related to this project and it goes a long way to helping solve the budget problem.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not represent the official views of the Office of Governor Rick Snyder.