Reversing Michigan’s population decline through limited-government, pro-growth policies

Reversing Michigan’s population decline through limited-government, pro-growth policies

Earlier this year, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer formed a council with the goal of solving the ongoing and increasing population loss. I said from the beginning: Addressing Michigan’s population loss is a worthwhile endeavor, but any solutions or recommendations coming from the council need to be bipartisan, comprehensive, and data driven.

I am honored to be the Senate Republican nominee on this council, but the governor’s reaction to my nomination was an early indicator that the council was less about solving problems and more about promoting pre-determined partisan goals.

Despite my qualifications as a Yale graduate, former Green Beret and former business executive, having worked in over a dozen countries and lived in five states, as well as maintaining close relationships with state and national leaders who have done the hard work of implementing real pro-growth initiatives — the governor rejected my nomination because I criticized some of her policies.

Considering this, I independently offer some of my own recommendations to the governor’s “Growing Michigan Together Council” to try and boost our state population, promote meaningful economic investments and take our state from the bottom of the rankings back to the top.

Michigan ranks far lower than it should by nearly every metric. We need to improve education standards, increase job opportunities for graduates, encourage business development and growth, simplify a complicated and penalizing tax structure, invest heavily in our infrastructure, and most importantly, get government out of the way and allow people and businesses to thrive.

First, it needs to be recognized that too much government can be a problem. Taxes can be too high, spending can be out of control and misdirected, and regulations can be oppressive — all these things push people and job providers to seek opportunities elsewhere.

The governor’s fight against an income tax reduction, along with promoting job-killing policies like repealing Right to Work and forcing state taxpayers to foot the bill on inflated state contracts are not policies that encourage people or businesses to set up shop in Michigan. Likewise, radical, expensive new energy proposals will not draw investment or encourage economic growth. Michigan is overtaxing and overregulating its population, businesses and jobs right into the open arms of other states.

Despite giving more money to schools each year, data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that Michigan is down in nearly every category compared to the rest of the nation. Democrats in Lansing have fought to eliminate reading requirements and lower educational standards — including metrics used by parents to determine an educator’s effectiveness. It’s plainly obvious that lowering standards and increasing funding have not netted desirable results, yet more money for teacher unions and scrapping the use of student progress are the only solutions being brought to the table.

These are only a few examples of overbearing reforms that stifle economic and population growth just this term. We need to move beyond the tax, regulate, and spend mindset that has held our state back for generations. It’s time to pursue more effective, bipartisan and data-driven answers.

A limited-government, pro-growth economic perspective and a focus on reversing our state’s decline through tax reform, commonsense regulation, public safety, individual rights, worker freedom and a high standard for our students’ education are what are needed to encourage more people to call Michigan home.

Competition amongst ideas will offer better answers than will ideological blindness. We need to be open to new ideas. However, it is critical we base any efforts on facts and facts alone — and the fact is Michigan is facing population decline and recent legislative efforts have only worsened the issue. There are solutions out there, and we can change course — but only if we take appropriate, decisive action and pursue real-world solutions.

I remain hopeful that we can create a foundation of growth and economic prosperity that allows my three children and future generations to fulfill their dreams without having to leave their home state, as so many have had to do.

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