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In Lansing, the Incoming Governor Plans to ‘Cut to Invest’

At an event carefully choreographed by Michigan’s incoming Republican Governor Rick Snyder’s transition team--a parade of corporate, civic, and political leaders previewed and validated the Snyder agenda, calling for big changes in government service delivery to save money and promote a more competitive business climate; while also calling for strategic investments in education, infrastructure, and Michigan’s metro regions as engines of the next economy.

The Center for Michigan, a centrist “think and do tank” created by retired newspaper publisher Phil Power, and Business Leaders for Michigan led by Doug Rothwell, co-chair of governor-elect Snyder’s transition (and his choice for head of Michigan’s Economic Development Corporation) orchestrated a symphony of Michigan CEOs, state and local elected officials, and policy analysts in promoting shared governmental services, reformed public employee compensation packages, two-year state budgeting, and streamlining the state’s business tax and regulatory system

Savings could then be used to invest more in Michigan’s tattered infrastructure, its metro city-regions as the state’s economic engines, and strategic human capital from early childhood education to the state’s public and research university network.

With a barren budget forcing invention, and federal stimulus “fixes” fast receding,  governors like Michigan’ s Snyder may emerge as a “pragmatic caucus” of non-ideological, “just-get-it-done” realists practicing innovative economics at the state level.

Next year, while Washington retrenches, look to see whether Gov. Snyder and his Democratic and Republican “pragmatic peers” around the country run some of these innovative plays--demonstrating the possibility for economic re-birth at the state level--in spite of dramatic fiscal challenges.