Heartwell And Granholm Contrast

January 30, 2006
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Both Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell last week gave public presentations of their goals for the next year, and there is contrast in the methodical manner in which Heartwell proposes to move the city forward despite the massive theft of state revenue sharing. The latter is not left with the governor alone to defend, but also the Republican-controlled legislative houses.

There are similarities in the two speeches; both Granholm and Heartwell are optimistic, but the reason for such optimism is distinctive. Heartwell proposes a tough-minded but progressive agenda that helps the city continue its growth even with the devastating loss of revenue. Granholm was long overdue in recognizing that jobs have been created in Michigan, and Heartwell rightfully expressed pride in this community’s endeavors in that regard and the innovation that produced them.

Heartwell notes Grand Rapids’ contributions to Michigan’s economy, and Granholm expressed a renewed desire to thieve it. The governor proposes further spending that assists areas of the state with little such productivity, using the proceeds from those who have hard earned every inch of gain.

Heartwell recognizes that with the theft of state revenue and the looming $80 million in spending reductions over the next five years, the city cannot provide its public servants with complete benefit packages paid for by citizens who indeed have no like benefits in the private sector. The governor refuses to consider such balance for state employees. Health insurance issues for the governor do not address the causes for lack of coverage, but does ask citizens to use more of their money to cover those the Big Three cannot.

The governor further suggests that every citizen who wants a pension program should have one, and that the state should — or could — somehow assist. This is purported to be a way to “help” small businesses that find administrative costs too prohibitive to offer such plans. Grand Rapids Business Journal suggests this is more likely a move born to assist the Big Three, now believed ready to ask for state and federal bailouts. President George Bush last week succinctly stated the federal government would not bail out companies that cannot produce goods that people want to buy.

If the governor wants to assist job growth (and pension planning), she should adopt the Single Business Tax change.

Granholm is in the midst of a controversial securitization of tobacco settlement money for her 21st century jobs program, while the mayor offers the innovative incentive already successfully used to expand manufacturing and building reuse: tax abatements to assist the knowledge-based industries, including advanced manufacturing, technology and life sciences. The idea for such a partnership was born with the Technology Sustainability Advisory Council in Grand Rapids. Unlike the state plan, Heartwell does not infer that the city (or state) can help create jobs, but it can assist those who do.

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