The Free Press published Sunday an op ed I wrote about the current Michigan economic recovery compared to that in the early Eighties. You can read it here.
For those interested in more of the details that the op ed is based on you can find them in four posts I have written for this blog on the economic record of the Blanchard Administration. They can be read here, here, here and here.
There are three big picture ideas that emerge from the evidence that I believe should underpin our approach to using state policy to grow the Michigan economy:
1. The tax and spending policies pursued by Governors –– more broadly state and local governments –– don’t have much to do with how well their state’s economy performs during their time in office. The state of the national economy and the performance of the state’s dominant industry(s) are by far the prime drivers of state economies.
2. As the Blanchard Administration record demonstrates, you don’t have to cut taxes to grow the state economy. And because you don’t have to cut taxes you don’t have to slash spending –– the inevitable consequence of tax cuts. You can have a decent safety net; public investments in education and infrastructure; and state support for the provision of quality basic services and amenities at the local level and have a prosperous and growing economy. What we have been told repeatedly for two decades or so that Michigan needs to have a smaller government to have economic growth is simply not accurate.
3. Understanding the limited impact of state tax and spending policies on long term state economic performance, it is our belief –– and it is belief, not fact –– that the state policy levers that matter most to growing the economy long term are public investments in education –– particularly higher education –– and creating quality of place –– particularly vibrant central cities –– to retain and attract mobile talent. Higher education and support for local government being the two areas that have suffered the biggest spending cuts the last decade. Almost certainly, not smart.