Michigan’s primary election — and the focus on ideological extremes that makes the primaries so deadly — is over. It’s time to dig into the issues that matter.
For us, that means focusing on what it will take to put Michigan back on a solid economic footing after COVID-19; creating a tax and regulatory environment in which businesses can thrive; and create, attract and retain the talent needed to keep the state competitive.
It may not get hearts and passions racing the way partisan red meat does, but that’s what really matters.
We haven’t heard enough about the so-called “pocket issues” in a culture wars-dominated primary, or addressing issues that affect all Michiganders, regardless of party.
- Shortage of K-12 teachers and post-COVID learning loss. Crain’s reported on numerous studies this year — and for years before that — showing public education in Michigan is in crisis. College enrollment is down in southeast Michigan. It’s getting worse. There is perhaps no greater impediment to progress in this state than an uneducated or unprepared workforce.
- Make higher education affordable. The state that succeeds in making post-secondary diplomas accessible by controlling costs and increasing public funding to alleviate the scourge of crushing student debt will win.
- Recovery of small businesses. Millions of federal dollars allocated to help Michigan businesses impacted by COVID shutdowns sit unused. Getting that money flowing is key.
- Health staffing and budget issues. Crain’s Dustin Walsh recently reported that federal support for COVID-era hospitals is expiring, leaving funding gaps that aren’t easy to fill other than by cutting services.
- Armed violence as a public health problem. The state has allocated far more money in its 2023 budget – about $210 million – to make schools safer, but the tragedy at Oxford High School is a stark reminder that it will take more than money to deal with this crisis.
- Supply chain disruptions. Manufacturers continue to battle global chip shortages. Congress passed a bill last month to provide money and tax credits to encourage domestic production of microchips. Will Michigan, home of the chip-dependent auto industry, be able to position itself to take advantage?
- A smarter economic development policy. The state is losing high-tech manufacturing to southern states and while progress has been made, it still has an economy desperately in need of diversification that is focused on an auto industry that is going through the biggest change it has. has ever seen.
We could go on: How should Michigan spend its $7 billion budget surplus? How does the state balance the need for tax relief for individuals and businesses with much-needed infrastructure investment? Critical questions, everything.
Social issues don’t go away in November, of course. The Overthrow of Roe c. Wade has profoundly changed the political landscape and dragged businesses into the fray as they reassess health care coverage in light of new state-by-state restrictions.
But hopefully some of the sidekicks that characterized the primary campaigns will make way for more serious discussion this fall. Michigan residents need and deserve it.