Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Breakfast with the Governor

The Oakland County Bar Association's First Tuesday Breakfast had Michigan's Governor Jennifer Granholm as its keynote speaker.

Gov. Granholm gave a very dynamic speech and spoke about her plans to deal with Michigan's current economic woes.

These plans include:
a) Reductions in the Simple Business Tax (SBT) to encourage job development. The change would result in different tax rates depending on the kind of business was paying the tax.

b) Issuance of $2 Billion (with a B) in bonds for infrastructure improvement, including $400 million in road repair funds, and incentives to companies to lcate in Michigan.

c) Changing the MEAP scholarships from a Merit based scholarship, as it leaves out too many students, to a scholarship to any student who lasts through two years of college (including community college) in the amoun of $4000.

Gov. Granholm is a very smart, dynamic speaker, and she has both a strong personality and a great deal of charisma. I can certainly see her running for a seat in the US Senate for the Democrats when her governorship ends.

Personally, I think her plans have quite a few flaws.

For SBT reform, if one wants to make it more attractive for business to locate here, simply scrap the entire antiquated SBT rather then reducing it incrementally and let the resulting economic growth result in greater revenue genration from other already existing taxes.

For the Bond plan, $400 million in road repair is a good start. But, the Governor's fix-it-first-before-building-new-roads plan is flawed in that it does not improve congrestion, cause more congestion due to the closure of lanes during repairs and then increases the wear and tear on existing roads while others are being fixed. In addition this increase in debt now may make borrowing harder later, and lead to increased taxes in the future...but on the other hand Michigan is in pretty bad shapenow and the bond revenue, if spent wisely, may prove to be both a shot-in-the-arm to the economy and hopefully improve Michigan's decaying infrastructure.

The problem with the "$4000 for everyone education" plan is that undoubtedly college tuition prices will rise in response to this new source of money being promised to the students. Additionally, this "free" money may cause many who are neither capable nor ready to handle college to go, thereby reducing spots and resources for those who are ready.

These issues aside, Gov. Granholm is a very effective politician and I'm quite sure that she will be a force to be reckoned with in Michigan politics for some time to come.

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