Street Talk: It’s all in the ask


Are Michigan’s voting-age residents in favor of tax cuts as proposals make their way through the state and the nation’s capitals?

It depends on how much information citizens are given when they’re asked to approve — or disapprove — a tax cut, according to Charles Ballard, director of Michigan State University’s State of the State Survey (SOSS.)

With the latest round of SOSS questions, 954 people between April 19 and July 30 were asked three different versions of questions about tax cuts.

In the first question, Michigan residents were asked if they approved or disapproved of cutting the tax rate from 4.25 percent to 3.9 percent.

Some 67.5 percent said they approved of the proposal. “This would appear to indicate that Michigan residents have a strong preference for a tax cut,” Ballard said.

The second question added more information. Interviewers told respondents: “It is estimated that this proposal will reduce revenues by more than $1 billion in 2018.”

A majority still approved of the tax cut, but those favoring it dropped to 51 percent.

The third question added yet more information. Interviewers told respondents: “Those with higher incomes will see the most benefit, as it would reduce taxes for the average family by about $100, but for a family with an income of $1 million, it would reduce taxes by about $3,500.”

With that information, approval dropped further, to 38 percent among all Michigan citizens, Ballard said.

The result is consistent with earlier State of the State Surveys asking similar questions, he said. “A large fraction of Michigan residents over time have said they believed that high-income households should pay more income taxes.”

Political party affiliations produced the largest differences among survey respondents. There were few differences between the race, gender or region of those answering, Ballard said.

Among those answering the three SOSS questions, Republicans favored tax cuts more than Democrats.

In the first question, those who identified themselves as Republican were far more in favor of tax cuts than Democrats, 87 percent to 65 percent, respectively.

When told that most of the benefits would go to high-income households, approval dropped among both Republicans and Democrats, with 62 percent of Republicans and 16 percent of the Democrats approving the proposal.

The answers offer guidance to those who are on both sides of the tax-cut question, Ballard said.

“The clear implication is that opponents of tax cuts should concentrate exclusively on the fact that most of the benefits go to the affluent, while proponents of tax cuts should concentrate on anything other than that.”

Macro manager

When Grand Rapids City Manager Greg Sundstrom steps down at the end of this year, officials believe it will take a village — or in this case, a city — to replace him.

So Grand Rapids’ elected officials are asking for help in identifying the traits a new city manager should possess.

“It is critically important that members of our community get an opportunity to help us shape the candidate profile for our next city manager,” Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said. “I encourage those who live and work in our city to complete the survey. We need to work together to ensure our next city manager is the best person to help us move forward as a community.”

A survey seeking citizen input is available on the city’s website in both English,, and Spanish, Those who prefer to pass along their information via telephone can call the city’s 311 customer service line at 456-3000.

The survey, which takes about five minutes to complete, includes questions about the leadership traits, abilities and management skills the next city manager needs to have as well as the most critical issues he or she needs to address.

The survey is part of a community engagement process that includes input from residents, business and civic leaders, and city staff. It is available until Friday, Nov. 3.

The process also will include stakeholder meetings over the next month, during which community and business leaders will be invited to provide input to GovHR USA LLC, the consulting firm that is overseeing the recruitment process.

After the community input process is complete, a candidate profile will be finalized and the position will be posted on Nov. 15. GovHR USA will launch a national search for candidates who meet the qualifications outlined in the profile. The City Commission anticipates candidate interviews to take place in January.

Knowledge is trump

During these turbulent times when President Donald Trump’s immigration reform is making news on a daily basis, it might be good to have an idea from the legal perspective just what can — and can’t — happen when hiring foreign nationals.

Miller Canfield immigration attorneys Rebecca Mancini and Jake Hogg will be discussing basic immigration aspects of hiring foreign nationals and compliance issues, as well as how to follow and plan for changes related to ongoing immigration reform efforts during a free seminar from 8 a.m.-noon, Nov. 9, in the firm’s Grand Rapids offices, 99 Monroe Ave. NW, Suite 1200. Registration is required at the firm’s website,, under the “news and events” section.

Mancini and Hogg will tackle numerous subjects, including the H-1B professional workers and EB-1 priority workers visas, as well as I-9 compliance for companies.

Keep on truckin’

A West Michigan chef is spreading the love for street food this week.

The chef and owner behind Kalamazoo’s Gorilla Gourmet food truck is next up in Western Michigan University’s Haworth College of Business Entrepreneurship Forum speaker series this week.

Noel Corwin will speak at 8 a.m. Oct. 20, in Room 2150 of Schneider Hall on Western Michigan University’s main campus at 600 Marion Ave. in Kalamazoo.

Corwin began his professional cooking career in Santa Barbara, California. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and Santa Barbara City College, he worked as a pastry chef in high-end restaurants, bakeries, hotels and resorts. His 20-year career has included working in Napa Valley, California; Nantucket, Massachusetts; Charleston, South Carolina; and at international locations.

Having grown up in Kalamazoo, Corwin returned to his childhood home in 2009 and began working on Kalamazoo’s first food truck, Gorilla Gourmet. He worked with the city of Kalamazoo for two years to change and rewrite the law to allow food trucks to vend in the city. In addition to the truck, Gorilla Gourmet operates a commercial kitchen and second mobile food unit and offers catering for weddings, festivals, special events and graduation parties.

Entrepreneurship Forum is a monthly series sponsored by BlueOx Credit Union and hosted by Western Michigan University’s Haworth College of Business. The forum brings stories of entrepreneurs and startup success to the greater Kalamazoo community. To learn more about the series, visit

The dates and speakers for future Entrepreneurship Forum presentations are:

Nov. 10: Charles Grantier and Tim Davis, co-owners, Territorial Brewing Co.

Dec. 8: Kristin Fiore, founder, Down Dog Yoga Center

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