Monday, November 12, 2007

5 ways to move Michigan forward

Over the past several months, I have pointed out numerous cases of mismanagement and waste in state government.  At times, I have offered solutions as well. But for those who have missed some of the positive suggestions, here is a summary of five ideas that if implemented, would move Michigan in the direction of becoming a state where more people come to live, create jobs and raise a family.

Toward a Better Michigan...
  1. Enact a Part-time legislature

  2. Pass the "Financial Accountability and Transparency Act"

  3. Make Michigan a Right-to-Work state

  4. Pass the Fair Tax

  5. Create the "Foundation Grant for Higher Education"

1. The Part-time Legislature. Currently, legislators meet in session 92 days per year and are paid $79,650 per year plus $12,000 for travel expenses and generous health benefits that continue after retirement. We pass far too many frivolous bills.  Meanwhile, it takes us over six months to pass the budget. This year, we took until 30 days AFTER the budget year ended to finish our work.  We need a legislature that is mandated to finish its work by June 1st at the latest. Legislator pay should reflect the average of the typical full-time worker in this state. Benefits should end when our terms end. Read more here.

2. Transparency.  Five other states and the federal government have already done this.  This could be looked at as Google Government, or putting the state's check book on-line. Today, even legislators have a hard time getting details about budgetary expenditures. Under this legislation, we would create 10 million "watchdogs" who can, with a few keystrokes, find out how the bureaucrats are spending  their money. Do you think this will make the state more accountable? If the federal government can put $3 TRILLION on line, I think the state can put $43 billion up for easy review. Read more here.
3. Right-to-work (RTW). Simply stated, under RTW legislation, employers would be prohibited from compelling an employee to join or financially support a union as a condition of employment. This is a no-brainer.  In the last twenty years, virtually every NEW automobile assembly plant built in the United States has been built in a RTW state. While RTW states have added 104,000 new automotive manufacturing jobs in the last 20 years, non-RTW states have lost 130,000 jobs over the same period. RTW states are where all the population and employment growth is occurring, as well as the per-capita income growth. Read details here.  Additional information is available here.
4. The Michigan Fair Tax would revolutionize investment and job growth in this state. Under this plan, personal income tax would be repealed. All business taxes, including the business personal property tax would be eliminated. In its place would be a flat rate sales tax on all RETAIL purchases.  The cost of producing goods and services would come down significantly because all the taxes businesses pay would disappear. Individuals would save 4.35% of their taxable income and would no longer have pay withheld from their checks.  No need to file a state income tax return, either.  This restructuring of our tax system would make Michigan a jobs magnet. Read more here.
5. The Foundation Grant for Higher Education.  Today, the state spends $1.7 billion on higher education. We have no set policy in place, however.  Funding on a per-student basis at the 15 public universities in this state ranges between about $3,500 per student to over $9,000 per student. Meanwhile, because about 10% of the students who attend public universities in Michigan are not FROM Michigan, we are spending $170 million or so on students whose parents have never paid taxes in this state. Under the Foundation Grant, every graduating Michigan high school student would be eligible for about $5,600 dollars per year to be used at any one of the 15 public universities in Michigan.

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