GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — What’s next in Michigan when it comes to the economy and business growth? It’s a question that lawmakers and business leaders think about a lot.
This spring, one component Gov. Gretchen Whitmer pointed to is having a population big enough to support expansion. During the Detroit Regional Chamber Mackinac Policy Conference, she announced she would appoint a panel to look at what the state can do to attract more people. With the Growing Michigan Together Council established and working, another group has some suggestions.
The West Michigan Policy Forum, which advocates for pro-business policy reform, has produced a list of suggestions for the panel and governor. Among those suggestions: eliminating Michigan’s personal income tax.
“We see that that’s a competitive issue,” former Republican Speaker of the Michigan House Jase Bolger, who now works with the WMPF, said of the income tax suggestion. “We see that the states that are growing the fastest don’t have an income tax… They both have better job opportunities and growing population.”
He said there are other options to bring in revenue to the government and stressed that removing the income tax would have to be done “responsibly,” as a shift or slow “ratcheting down.”
“Unfortunately, the current Legislature, current governor is seeking to block a promised rollback on income tax for every Michigan worker,” Bolger said.
The group’s suggestions also include reinstating the ‘right-to-work’ policy, which Democrats repealed fairly quickly after gaining control of the state Legislature this year.
“None of the things that we propose will be easy, but just because they’re not easy doesn’t mean that they’re not right,” Bolger said. “This is a policy that is pro-worker. Workers should have the freedom to choose whether they want to belong to an organization or not. But it also has an impact on what kind of career opportunities that exist in the state.”
He said businesses often consider right-to-work policies when deciding which states to move to and that all five of the five fastest-growing states in the country are right-to-work states.
Bolger said the WMPF’s suggestions to Whitmer’s council were unsolicited but that it hopes the panel will take them into consideration.
“What we hope they would do is look at the data, look at the facts,” he said. “Instead of lecturing growing states about our social politics, I wish they’d look to growing states and listen to what’s succeeding in those states. And so let’s set politics aside, let’s put people first, and let’s make Michigan a growing state again.”