Opinion: Less drama, more action needed to achieve 2020 goals

Jim Holcomb

Michigan rightfully earned the reputation as the “comeback state” during the end of the decade as tremendous progress was made in increasing Michigan’s fiscal strength by rightsizing the state budget and streamlining tax and regulatory structures.  

Today, challenges remain. But we are confident that, with strong leadership, our best days are ahead. No one individual or group can act alone to shape Michigan’s future; rather, we must embrace a shared responsibility and act together to deal with the most pressing issues facing our state. We must not allow Lansing to become like Washington, DC. 

Successful business leaders are pro-active problems solvers who are optimistic, but brutally honest about the challenges they face. Successful business leaders also have high expectations for themselves and others. Michigan’s taxpayers, working families and job creators are demanding that their governmental leaders exhibit the same traits and put partisan bickering aside for the betterment of the entire state. We need less drama and more action in Lansing if we are to achieve our goals. 

We need less drama and more action in Lansing if we are to achieve our goals in 2020, writes Holcomb.

Here are four big goals that must be accomplished in 2020 to strengthen Michigan’s economy and keep Michigan moving forward: 

►Move forward with building the Great Lakes Tunnel. It’s time for less talk, less litigation and more action. It is well past time for state government to take action to protect the Great Lakes by building the Great Lakes Tunnel.

►Close the skills gap. The Legislature and Governor need to work together to fund the "Going PRO" jobs training program and launch Michigan Reconnect to match future employees with the skill set they need to be competitive in the 21st century economy.

►Fix the roads. Enough with the talking points; it’s time for the governor and state lawmakers to finally put in place the resources needed to fix Michigan’s crumbling roads and bridges. Michigan’s economic progress will not be sustainable unless our infrastructure needs are addressed in a meaningful manner.

►Resist reverting to failed policies of the past. We know from experience that good public policy has a positive impact on Michigan’s economic competitiveness. Today, free enterprise is under attack and some want to turn back the clock on policy reforms that have bolstered Michigan’s comeback. For instance, some have suggested that to strengthen Michigan we need a graduated income tax, a ban on charter schools, corporate income tax increases or a lessening of individual property rights. Enactment of any of these dangerous ideas would have a profoundly negative impact on Michigan's economic competitiveness. As a state, we have come so far and cannot revert back to the failed the polices of the past. Job providers and their employees are working every day to build a stronger Michigan and government needs to support their efforts, not engage in politically charged rhetoric.   

The Michigan Chamber will remain steadfast in our fight to protect employers and employees from government overreach. We have no doubt that in the race for jobs, we must position Michigan with a stable tax and regulatory climate to attract the investment needed to grow Michigan’s economy. We are optimistic that 2020 can be a good year if all involved strive for less drama and more action. 

Jim Holcomb is Senior Executive Vice President of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.