Michigan Governor Rick Snyder's budget recently passed with 19 State Senators voting no and 19 State Senators voting yes...the tie was broken by Lt. Governor Calley.
Much has already been made of how this budget cuts large business taxes at the expense of low wage earners and retirees.
Little has been made, however, of another failure of this budget...there's no plan for economic diversification. In fact, the tax credits that had been put in place by Grahnolm's administration to stimulate new industries in Michigan have been removed.
Michigan hadn't been served well by being a single industry state. For the living memory of most people in this state, Michigan has always been a boom and bust economy. The booms became less and less prosperous compared to the rest of the nation. And the busts have became increasingly severe. The last one lasted more than a decade. While the rest of the nation saw more moderated ups and downs from 2001 to 2008, Michigan's single industry economy continued to stall along with the domestic auto makers.
When times are good or improving, our leaders seem to be content to let the state continue as a single industry economy. Engler blew Michigan's chance to diversify during good times in the 1990s...and it appears his protege Rick Snyder is setting us to for the same thing now that the auto companies are profitable again...for now.
And we all know where that leads. We KNOW where that leads. There's no ambiguity. There's no mystery. We KNOW where that leads us. We know, because we've been there most of our lives.
I spoke to Republican State Senator Geoff Hansen about this very subject...about how the budget has no plan for diversifying the economy, that it strips out most incentives for new industries, and he blurted out the general talking point about picking winners and losers. As though it's some moral rule that supersedes good governance. As though several lifetimes of boom and bust cycles weren't evidence enough that we KNOW what Michigan's economy will do, left to its own devices.
We KNOW that left to its own organic growth, Michigan will continue down the road toward a single industry economy as it has for the past 100 years. We KNOW that.
We KNOW that without incentives to grow new industries, we'll stay the same vulnerable and shaky economy we've been for decades.
We KNOW that.
Governor Granholm spent her 8 years in office, during some of Michigan's worst years for a long time, trying to lure NEW industries here: biomedical engineering, film, solar, advanced battery manufacturing, tourism. Those were the only glimmers of hope out there for the past decade while the auto industries crumbled around us.
But Snyder has mostly put an end to that.
Now that the domestic auto industry is profitable again, Michigan leaders can bury their heads in the sand again. They can go back to business as usual.
This tax plan isn't a reinvention of Michigan. It's the pursuit of the same lazy policy that's caused decades of boom-bust cycles...but mostly bust cycles.