Michigan Legislative Update
Week of January 19, 2017
By Judy Augenstein
This week Governor Rick Snyder presented his seventh State of the State to the Legislature, outlining a path forward for strong economic growth and attracting new talent to Michigan. Governor Snyder explained that by continuing to invest in our infrastructure, our students, our communities and the mobility industry, Michigan has just a few obstacles left to overcome before being recognized as the most desirable state in the nation in which to live.
"Michigan today is transformed from the Michigan of six years ago," Snyder said. "We are successful and confident. We are proud. Six years ago we watched our family members, neighbors and coworkers leave for jobs in Chicago or California. To be honest, we were not very hopeful about our future and we suffered from a lot of negative perception."
Six years of effective reforms, from revising the tax code, establishing the conditions employers need in order to grow new jobs, a strong partnership with state lawmakers and input from residents have led to Michigan's strongest position as a national leader in decades. Numerous indicators underscore the current strength of our economy, including the creation of nearly half a million private-sector jobs in the past six years and five consecutive years of population increases.
Governor Snyder identified the following priorities to continue the growth of Michigan's economy while ensuring we have an increased population with skill sets to continue our recent success.
Six years ago, no one could have imagined Detroit would be compared to Silicon Valley. Now Michigan is leading the nation in autonomous vehicle expansion. The purchase of driver less cars is within reach. Once the technology has been tested and certified, manufacturers will be able to offer these vehicles for sale. The American Center for Mobility, established at the former Willow Run bomber plant, will be America's leading non-profit testing and product development facility. Michigan is leading the way in making cars smarter, making them safer and creating new freedoms for people who are currently unable to operate a vehicle due to physical restrictions. The possibilities for developing new technology are endless.
The success of Michigan's economy now depends largely on educating Michigan's future workforce. Under a new law, all students who falls behind in reading will receive an individualized plan to ensure that they receive the assistance they need to be successful. There will be an increased investment in community colleges and skilled trades apprenticeship programs to allow students to gain the skills needed for the careers that will dominate Michigan's economy in the coming years.
Michigan's infrastructure continues to suffer from decades of under investment, as evidenced by the water crisis in Flint and the sewer line collapse in Fraser. The governor will focus in 2017 on implementation of an integrated asset management pilot program, improving coordination between cities, utilities and state government when planning upgrades to existing infrastructure. He will also continue to pursue reforms with the Legislature that go above and beyond federal standards to help ensure a water quality issue like the one in Flint will never happen again in Michigan.
Growing our communities:Creating downtown spaces where Michiganders can live, work and play is integral to retaining residents and attracting new ones. Snyder will look for ways to partner with the Legislature on how communities throughout Michigan can unlock private investment to revitalize down towns and main streets. The Governor was alluding to creating private/public partnerships, legislation that failed to pass the legislature last session. The legislation failed because it included a framework for road tollways.
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