In the News

Michigan Should Follow Lead of Top Growing States: Jonathan Williams in The Detroit News

Americans continue to flock to states that value freedom and economic competitiveness through free market policy.

ALEC EVP of Policy and Chief Economist Jonathan Williams recently authored an op-ed in The Detroit News about the recent findings from the Growing Michigan Together Council, a panel put together by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer to address the state’s stagnant population growth. Unfortunately, the council neglected to examine important factors related to Michigan’s poor economic performance or address possible tax increases.

During the Gov. Jennifer Granholm era, Michigan had the dubious distinction as the locale in a “single state recession.” Many of my fellow graduates in the class of 2005 experienced the lack of real economic opportunity in the state at the time — and many found jobs in other states. Republicans and Democrats alike should agree Michigan cannot ever return to that position.

While Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and her Growing Michigan Together Council should be commended for investigating the causes of Michigan’s slow population growth, they appear to have neglected some key analysis and made thinly veiled threats against current laws and institutions as “barriers,” which sounds a whole lot like massive tax increases on the horizon.

With enhancing population and increasing overall economic growth as widely agreed upon objectives, it follows that policymakers need non-partisan research and data-driven analysis. Since 2007, I have co-authored the annual report, Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index. Our research has focused on what works and what does not, from a policy perspective, as Americans “vote with their feet” across state lines. This movement of Americans has become especially relevant with our increasingly remote workforce post-pandemic. While numerous other factors can play a role in growth, we find free market economic policies help drive state competitiveness, migration and job growth.

Michigan again faces a time for choosing. Escaping from the throes of a single state recession wasn’t easy. State lawmakers and Gov. Rick Snyder were able to turn the corner by thinking outside the box and eliminating the disastrous Michigan Business Tax, enacting regulatory relief for struggling employers and supporting the rights of individual workers with Right-to-work. By 2017, the state had nearly erased the exodus of Michiganians to other states. It can be done again with smart policy choices.

Read the full op-ed here.