Chamber Calls for Centrist Agenda, Early Bipartisan Wins
“Take the opportunity to govern from the broad center, rack up some early bipatisan wins, and advance Michigan’s competitive position in the global economy.”
That’s the advice Chamber President and Chief Executive Officer Sandy K. Baruah provided to the Michigan’s legislative quadrant leaders in a letter copied to Governor Gretchen Whitmer in late November 2022. Providing the business community’s perspective, Baruah suggested priorities deemed essential to create a more equitable and prosperous Michigan.
Michigan Must Capitalize on Manufacturing, While Improving Education
In the letter, Baruah warned against the false choice that too often pits building Michigan’s talent base against capitalizing on our manufacturing heritage.
“The stark reality is that Michigan must capitalize on our manufacturing competitive advantage today and make major investments in our educational attainment and skill levels. This is not an ‘or’ conversation,” wrote Baruah.
An important step in doing so is creating a “constant, reliable, and sufficient” source of funding for the successful Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve fund while supporting the deployment of electric vehicle infrastructure – both central to Michigan’s ability to attract investment and jobs, and maintain its automotive and mobility leadership.
Baruah also encouraged investment in the Going PRO Talent Fund, initially started under former Gov. Rick Snyder, to prepare employers for 21st Century jobs while providing bipartisan K-12 education reforms focused on student achievement, measurable results, and funding equity models highlighted by Launch Michigan.
Creating a Welcoming Community Key to Competing for Talent
With 38% of Michiganders falling below the ALICE (asset limited, income constrained, employed) level, and unable to provide basic household necessities, the letter called for enhancing the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which is a refundable tax credit for low to moderate-income working individuals and couples.
Championed by former President Ronald Reagan, the EITC targets those who need it most and have the highest propensity to spend those dollars locally in their communities. Michigan’s EITC supports working families earning up to $57,000 a year.
Additionally, the letter touted the expansion of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include the LGBTQ+ community.
“In the competition for skilled talent our employers face, we cannot leave any talented person on the sidelines. Michigan and employers need state policies to support a welcoming environment for all,” wrote Baruah.
Promote Civility Through Bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus
Baruah also proposed creating a Bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus mirrored after the Congressional version championed by Reps. Debbie Dingell and Fred Upton, which has proven to drive practical solutions across parties and legislative chambers.
“Washington continues to set a poor example for civility, productivity, and efficiency. In Michigan, we can do better – and you can lead the way in the new legislature.”