Column: Continuing Michigan’s comeback

Brian Calley

Back in 2009 and 2010, there weren’t too many people who believed Michigan was about to enter into a period of prolonged economic growth. The “lost decade” saw us lose more jobs and people than any other state. What’s worse, we lost our most precious resources — our young people — to other states in search of career opportunities. Economists were pessimistic and it was easy to see why.

What a difference seven years makes. Michigan’s comeback was no accident. We accomplished bold and sorely needed reforms that made a statement to the nation. Balanced budgets, two major tax cuts, regulatory reform, skilled trades investments, criminal justice reforms, Detroit on the rise. ...

The result? Jobs. More than 500,000 of them and the lowest unemployment in 17 years. After being at the bottom of every list you want to be at the top of, we are now number one in job growth among the Great Lakes states and number six overall in America.

Before we took office, Michigan was 50th in the nation in population growth. Today, not only are we growing again, we are number one among the Great Lakes states for inbound migration of people with bachelor’s degrees and 10th overall in 25- to 34-year-olds. Our kids are coming back home. Continuing this comeback is the right direction for Michigan. We have laid a strong foundation. Now it is time to build on that foundation, making our state the most prosperous in the nation.

Pundits, media and politicians love to oversimplify the decisions of our citizens in elections. They wrongly believe that people want change for the sake of change. What I believe people really want is a better, stronger, more secure future for their children. To leave Michigan better off than it was before.

Setting politics aside for a moment, Michigan is undeniably better off than it was at the end of the lost decade. Our fundamentals are strong and so is our resolve to put Michigan back in first place.

What we’ve accomplished together shows that anything is possible. The foundation is strong. We should celebrate that, but not rest. There is still much more to do. It’s time to dream bigger and reach higher. Michigan’s best days are ahead. Now is not the time to turn back to the politics and failed policies of the past. Sound bites and politics won’t bring Michigan to the next level. We need bold plans and bold leadership.

That’s why I am running for governor. I’m proud of how far we’ve come, but don’t mistake that for being content. Taking Michigan to the next level is all about our people. Here’s my top priorities:

■Make Michigan the best state in the nation for PreK-12 education because if you want a great outcome, you need a great beginning.

■Fill 100,000 more skilled trades jobs because our economy desperately needs more people in these fields and many people still need a great career.

■Transform our social service system into a springboard to employment because maintaining a person on the sidelines is not good enough.

■Eradicate the opioid epidemic because every life has purpose, value and worth.

■Bring civility back to public service because we are stronger together.

We’ve come so far in the last seven years, but now it’s time to bring Michigan to the next level. Please join me.

Brian Calley is lieutenant governor of Michigan and a Republican candidate for governor.