Over the last 10 days, it's been fun to watch, read, and react to stories on the "Imported from Detroit" commercial featuring Eminem that aired during the Super Bowl and the viral internet movement that emerged to fund a RoboCop statue in Detroit.
But neither of those stories address the heart of the problems facing Michigan. Chrysler, Ford, and GM can produce all the inspirational commercials they want, but ultimately it won't matter if they don't deliver a profitable product. Likewise, people can organize and raise money from around the world using Facebook, Twitter, Kickstarter, and MichiganExpats.com, but they won't positively influence social change if they don't offer practical solutions to real problems.
The true test of whether Michigan is willing and able to turn the corner in the twenty-first century will be how it reacts to substantial changes to meat and potatoes issues addressed in Governor Rick Snyder's first proposed state budget released Thursday.
I had been skeptical of Gov. Snyder due to a lack of familiarity and questions regarding whether he was willing to step up and lead the state to make many of the necessary changes Michigan needs to turn things around and get on a path to resurgence.
A sure signal that Snyder has the leadership and boldness required to bring institutional changes to Michigan is evident in the reactions of entrenched special interests to his budget. Angry special interest groups, whether it is businesses, unions, teachers, or seniors are often a good sign that real change is coming, for it's a good sign that those special interest groups will be getting less of your tax dollars.
I read a lot of the reactions of special interest on Michigan news sites today and the actual budget proposal document. I intended and began to elaborate on some of the most controversial parts of the budget (e.g. pensions, business tax cuts, eliminating tax credits, education funding cuts), but it's getting late, so you can look forward to more on each of those in the next few days.
The short summary is that the business tax reforms should create a much more favorable environment for business creation and growth which is essential; taxing all pension income as income will upset many but is an equitable and reasonable mean to expand the tax base and increase revenue; and many of the other initiatives are necessary steps to reign in state spending so that Michigan is not running continual deficits.
It's a very positive step. Much more so than a Super Commercial or a RoboCop statue. I've already begun further analysis and commentary on these issues, so please come back and check those out. In the mean time, please share your comments, thoughts, and questions on Governor Snyder's budget proposals.