When I left the private sector to make my first run for public office, I kept saying things that some people thought were nave, too idealistic or both. Michigan's biggest challenge was a culture of doubt that was inhibiting meaningful change.
It wasn't just a matter of "entitled" or "entrenched" special interests. We simply grew too pessimistic.
Our public policy debates too often focused on the view from our economic rearview mirror, rather than looking straight ahead. Some Michiganders lost sight of our legacy: the optimism and imagination that put the world on wheels and helped win World War II by out-engineering and out-producing the Axis war machines. After defeating foreign rivals, we spent too much time fighting each other.
Our campaign called for reinventing Michigan along with shared sacrifice and the need to be reasonable. None of this was easy. But with the help of a new Legislature elected last fall, we scrapped the notions of incrementalism; we denied the naysayers who told us the thousand reasons why we couldn't move an ambitious plan for businesses and long-term fiscal solvency for our state, into the fast lane.
Within the past few weeks, the changes have been coming quickly:
Governor Rick Snyder
Michigan re-invents economic gardening with a new $3 billion Pure Michigan Business Connect program that brings together private and public resources to grow existing and new businesses in our state. Coordinated by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, it offers new ways to raise capital, bid for state work and matches people with resources, strengthening relationships to fuel economic growth.
Initial program participants include CMS Energy, DTE Energy, Huntington National Bank, the Export Import Bank of the U.S. (ExIm) and several Michigan agencies and organizations. I always thought previous efforts to find new industries to bring to Michigan were sometimes to the detriment of the existing business base, creating a "Swiss cheese economy."
Eliminating Business Taxes
Our previous state business tax was quite simply, dumb. We replaced it with a simpler and very competitive 6% tax rate for C-Corporations in the state; all other business people (the vast majority) will now simply pay Michigan's low 4.35% personal income tax.
Our new tax system provides a lower overall rate that will save $1.8 billion in taxes. According to the Tax Foundation, Michigan will jump overnight from the 48th most competitive overall business tax climate to the 13th. The personal income tax rate drops to 4.25% by 2013.
These moves will help existing businesses to grow and thrive and hire new employees, and help new businesses move to Michigan to take advantage our state's abundant talent, our low costs and low taxes and one of the nation's most impressive sources of industrial and university R&D strength... We've always made things in Michigan: it's in our entrepreneurial DNA.
Early, balanced budget. For the first time in 30 years, a budget that is normally completed in the fall was completed on May 26, four days before our goal -a target that many said couldn't be met. To that we say, "Sure it could."
And now finally, we offer a re-invented, super-competitive business environment, the best in the Midwest and one of the best in the nation.
Michigan is now on a long-term sustainable path to solvency, we've eliminated a $1.5 billion deficit, and we cut our budget. We fixed structural deficits, slashed business taxes and we are helping businesses get what they need so that the state can grow and prosper again.
What's next? We do what Michiganders do best: get back to work.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder was elected to his first term last fall. For more on Michigan's re-invented business climate, visit www.MichiganAdvantage.org.