Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder last week offered his second State of the State address, but if anyone expected an outline of new initiatives that remotely compared to his galvanizing fundamentals of 2011, they may have been disappointed. The word “fundamental” is operative in this regard, and Snyder followed up the speech later in the week to emphasize: “2012 must be devoted to continuing the state’s reinvention by taking care of unfinished business.”
As an example, no one can undervalue the tremendous business boost brought by 2011’s dissolution of the Michigan Business Tax, or the continued effort to reform personal property tax on industrial assets. The state’s newfound ability to pare down its deficit spending and pass a balanced budget while still contributing to the “rainy day fund” and repaying federal debts is an unmatched accomplishment awaited for more than a decade. But as Snyder said, it is only a fundamental, necessary to make gains and new progress. Business owners undoubtedly have more stable footing, a structure on which they can make new plans and continued gains.
While “unfinished business” is likely to be the continued headline in 2012, so, too, will be an emphasis on Detroit. Snyder certainly provided advance warning last year as he poised to set his emergency financial manager in Michigan’s largest city. He has continually asserted that Michigan’s survival and success is directly tied to that of Detroit. We might expect that the proposal for an “Office of Urban Initiatives” will be so focused. “It is important for all Michiganders to understand that having a thriving, growing Detroit is important to all of us,” he said. There’s your sign. So it must also be said that the “legacy cost” of the state’s largest city to the rest is in everyone’s interest. Detroit’s (many) deficits are to the detriment of the rest and to continued job growth.
Some salve for the rest of outstate Michigan may be in the renewed sense of optimism shared among state business leaders, from its Fortune 500 ranks to the Small Business Administration members. West Michigan regional economic outlooks from a variety of sources show that optimism continues to grow. The most recent such report was provided last week by Grand Valley State University Seidman College of Business economics professor Hari Singh, who reported that business optimism measures are near 60 percent — for the first time in six years. The survey was co-sponsored by Colliers International.
Snyder on Wednesday told his statewide audience: “We cannot slow down. We have to maintain that sense of urgency and finish what we started.” The success of that, he said, is “relentless positive action.” That appears to be registering, as measured in each of the business outlook surveys around the state.