Comerica To Michigan You Dont Get It

March 12, 2007
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“They’re not even close,” Grand Valley Metro Council Executive Director Don Stypula told members of his board in reference to any best guess as to how legislators are preparing to meet state budget shortfalls, or how municipalities might budget for the coming fiscal year, let alone escape the red ink blotting out current state funding levels.

In the same week, the 158-year-old Michigan institution that recently provided a new home for the Detroit Tigers announced it will move to Dallas. The governor was surprised. So, too, were legislators. In fact, against that backdrop of unfolding news, three Grand Rapids area legislators held a press conference to flog the governor for the overspending reported by three state departments last year, and to flag legislation they were unable to introduce (by week’s end) to the state House to provide “consequences” for any such future violation.

The proposal may have been well intentioned, but did anyone notice that Comerica is the latest of Michigan “residents” to pack up and head south? Is anyone at all concerned with the big picture? There was no press conference laying out new state initiatives to present this state as a place to stay or come to do business.

It is unconscionable that the governor and legislators do not understand the consequences of continued partisan grandstanding and aimless politicking in town hall “events.” Comerica’s announcement is akin to a baseball bat upside the head. Grand Rapids Business Journal does not need any more “events” to cover; we expect to report the work taking place on revenue and budget initiatives. State “leaders” have been receiving responsible recommendations from across the state for more than a year. And even the current budget remains meaningless.

Outcomes-based budgeting is absolutely the first place to begin. The Center for Michigan, whose steering committee is a who’s who of Michigan’s diverse political, academic, economic and labor institutions, has provided another blueprint for the state’s most immediate needs. It is supported and/or given added proposals by the state’s business associations. Michigan CEOs have given incredible amounts of time and talent to the issues of state, including Comerica Chairman and CEO Ralph Babb Jr., who chairs Detroit Renaissance, among other economic and community initiatives.

Tom Clay, former public affairs director for the Citizen’s Research Council of Michigan, spelled it out (again) last week with GVMC members:

Michigan is dead last among 50 states in personal income growth, unemployment rate, employment growth and economic momentum. Revenue to the state’s general fund was lower than the amount the state received in 1996, and the annual growth of the school-aid fund has been under 2 percent since 2000.

Michigan apparently has not elected representatives of any stripe who are intellectually competent, able to handle the issues or even want to work the jobs taxpayers hired them to do. To those who are impressed with themselves as state leaders: The emperor has no clothes; you are the laughingstock of the country.

Gov. Granholm and her legislative fellows admitted last week they are “clueless” as to their responsibility for the business environment of this state. One wonders whether anyone who cares will still be in Michigan to hold them responsible.     

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