Detroit Regional Chamber Statement on Governor Whitmer’s Budget Proposal

“Governor Whitmer’s plan to address Michigan’s crumbling roads is certainly bold and generates the needed revenue to sufficiently address the challenge. The Chamber supports increased infrastructure investment and is reviewing the elements of her proposal. We look forward to seeking the input of our members as well as legislators before we take a formal position.  The Chamber believes that treating retirement income in the same manner as earned income is a critical fairness issue that was resolved in 2011, and does not support revisiting that matter.”

Sandy K. Baruah, President and CEO, Detroit Regional Chamber

Ora Hirsch Pescovitz and Richard Rassel: Taking on the talent gap

February 10, 2019

Crain’s Detroit Business

By: Ora Hirsch Pescovitz and Richard Rassel

In a few days Governor Gretchen Whitmer will deliver her first State of the State address. A major step in preparing for the state’s economic future is to ensure more residents complete postsecondary degrees and certifications.

In the heated competition with other states to attract private business investment, Michigan must elevate its profile as a talent pipeline to a range of industries in need of exceptionally qualified employees.

Yet before Michigan can boast a plentiful well-educated and highly trained workforce, there’s a pressing need to increase individuals with postsecondary degrees and high-skill job credentials. Degrees and credentials are prerequisites for advancement in a U.S. economy where 65 percent of jobs will require postsecondary credentials by next year.

By 2020, Michigan employers expect to need 176,000 more college grads to fill openings, and 126,000 skilled workers with a two-year degree or certificate, according to the Georgetown Center for Education and the Workforce. Of the current “Hot 50” high-demand, high-wage jobs in the state, 36 require at least a four-year degree.

The stark reality, however, is 72 percent of metro Detroit’s high school graduates enroll in a college or university within a year after graduation whereas only 27 percent of them earn a bachelor’s degree within six years.

There’s work to be done.

Detroit Drives Degrees is a collaborative initiative undertaken by regional leaders in higher education, K-12, business, philanthropy and the nonprofit sector. Led by the Detroit Regional Chamber Foundation, Detroit Drives Degrees seeks to increase postsecondary degrees or certificates to 60 percent of the population by 2030.

To improve job preparedness and the appeal of the regional workforce to regional, national and global employers, this plan calls for increasing access to education for high school students and adults; improving student success and removing barriers to degrees, and retaining and attracting talent to the region.

Currently, Michigan ranks 36th in the nation in college attainment with 28.3 percent of the population holding a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to the U.S. Census Community Survey. Michigan falls below the national average of 31.3 percent.

But with Michigan having the fifth-highest share of population with some postsecondary education but no degree or credential, there is a timely opportunity to make significant progress toward the 60-percent target. Detroit Drives Degrees and its partners are actively seeking to re-engage the 690,000 adults in metro Detroit who enrolled in college but did not finish.

The appeal is straightforward: More education translates strongly into higher wages and stronger state economies. Indeed, the top 15 states ranked by higher education attainment are also states with the highest GDP per capita.

Postsecondary education isn’t strictly about economics. Odds are five times greater for the poorest Detroit residents, for instance, to advance economically from poverty with a postsecondary education, according to the Pew Charitable Trust.

Together, more credentials and college degrees will deepen and broaden the region’s talent pool, a necessary road to take as Gov. Whitmer formulates the next phase of the state’s economic development strategy.

Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, president of Oakland University, and Richard Rassel, chair/director of global relations at Butzel Long, are co-chairs of Detroit Drives Degrees leadership council.

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Brad Williams: What I Learned During My Time on Gov. Whitmer’s Transition Team

Following the election of Gretchen Whitmer as the 49th governor of Michigan, Brad Williams, vice president of government relations for the Detroit Regional Chamber, was appointed to Whitmer’s transition policy team with the mandate to develop a plan to “fix the damn roads.” Read Williams’ insights about the appointment and working with the governor-elect and her team.

When I received the call to join Governor Whitmer’s transition team, my initial reaction was somewhere between “I am honored,” and “I am terrified.” The Governor asked me to join her transition policy team with the mandate to develop a plan to “fix the damn roads.” Balancing the need to provide sound advice to the new Governor with my obligation to advocate for the needs of the business community would no doubt be a challenge. Driving to Lansing the day after the election, listening to WJR callers almost exclusively talking about fixing the roads, my anxiety level reached a peak. However, having spent the bulk of my 11 years with the Chamber working to improve transportation, I knew my task would fit neatly with my work on behalf of the Chamber.

Transitions by their very nature are intense, stressful, thrilling and humbling all at the same time. Transition Director Mark Bernstein referred to it as a $56 billion startup in 55 days. I am limited in my ability to share most of the details of my time away from the Chamber, but I can say with confidence that Gov. Whitmer is remarkably prepared to take the reins of state government.

When I came home from the office, my wife would ask the traditional “tell me about your day” questions and I would reflexively fall back on routine answers that indicated nothing special happened. Later, I would remember an interesting tidbit from the day that would start me talking, which would lead to even more tales and I would realize that what seemed like an ordinary day had in fact been filled with extraordinary experiences and memories that set our state on a pathway to even greater success.

What a privilege.

When I departed the transition office in the basement of a non-descript state office building the Friday before Christmas, I was reminded of the seemingly insurmountable task that laid before us only six weeks earlier and was filled with gratitude. Gratitude for the Chamber that allowed me to participate in this historic process. Gratitude for my transition colleagues, some of whom were joining the administration full time and some who, like me, were returning to their “day job,” but had poured their energy into the effort. But also, gratitude for the state that we live in and the opportunity we have to allow our state to continue to flourish.

Now, I have returned to my post at the Chamber. I am a better advocate for our members having been given this opportunity. I am confident that we have an opportunity to build on the last eight years of success and I look forward continuing to represent your interests in Lansing.

Democrats Picked Up Midwest Governor Seats by Vowing to Fix Schools, Potholes

November 7, 2018

The Wall Street Journal

By: Valerie Bauerlein & Kris Maher

Midwesterners elected gubernatorial candidates who promised to boost teacher pay in Wisconsin, fix potholes in Michigan and reverse deep budget cuts in Kansas. These issues, divorced from national politics, fueled Democratic victories across the region. The traditional political battleground helped hand the presidency to President Trump in 2016, but Tuesday’s election shows some of the states are still up for grabs. Governors are particularly powerful now as they increasingly take the lead on energy, health care and transportation policy.

“When you have gridlock in Washington, naturally people turn to the states,” said Jim Hodges, a former Democratic governor of South Carolina who now advises clients on working with governors. “More and more issues are being pushed to the state stage and to the local stage.” Still, political analysts cautioned against reading too much into the Democratic gubernatorial wins in the Midwest, known for its swing states.

Adding governors in the Midwest could help 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls, who would be able to rely on governors’ fundraising networks and potential endorsements, analysts said. But three of the four Midwestern Democrats will be working with GOP-led legislatures, so it is unclear how much of their agendas they will be able to implement.

Blue Versus Red

Democrats picked up gubernatorial seats in the Midwest that were GOP-held for years. Democrats picked up a rare win in deep-red Kansas and reclaimed once reliably blue territory in Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois. Republicans held on to governors’ seats in Ohio and Iowa. Overall, Democrats added seven governor seats on Tuesday, ending up with 23. Republicans have 26, with Georgia still too close to call. Republicans previously held 33 governorships, while Democrats had 16.

Democrat Gretchen Whitmer, a former state Senate minority leader who won the governor’s seat in Michigan, ran economically focused ads and won back many blue-collar voters in places like Macomb County, part of the Detroit metro area, said Matt Grossmann, a political scientist at Michigan State University. “She ran the traditional hard-hat campaign where she was at factories with mostly blue-collar men talking about her background,” Mr. Grossmann said. “That’s a quintessential Michigan campaign.”

Voters said they favored Democrats because of state-specific issues such as expanding Medicaid and repairing infrastructure. They played down issues like immigration, which President Trump focused on before the election. Campaign pledges to restore civility also seemed to resonate among voters in a region that often prides itself on being genial. Marsha Luetjen, 72 years old, considers herself an independent and voted for Ms. Whitmer. “We have some of the worst roads in the country,” said Ms. Luetjen, of Brighton Township, Mich., a rural and mostly conservative area between Detroit and Lansing.

Ms. Luetjen said she hopes the new governor will fix roads and potentially lower the state’s income tax on pensions. “I think those are things that she can probably get done without a whole bunch of hoopla from both sides,” she said. The Detroit Regional Chamber endorsed a Democrat for the first time in a generation, choosing Ms. Whitmer over Republican state Attorney General Bill Schuette.

Chamber Chief Executive Sandy Baruah said he was optimistic that Ms. Whitmer’s leadership would lead to key investments in education and transportation, though he worried she might face significant pressure from her base “to do some things we’re going to have to push back against.” Ms. Whitmer said in a press conference Wednesday she was eager to fix roads, lower auto-insurance rates, improve the quality of drinking water and help underperforming schools. She said she planned to meet Wednesday with departing two-term Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.

“The people of Michigan expect, want and deserve leaders who can work together to solve problems,” she said. “I think when you talk you can find common ground. But when you’re not talking, you don’t have any shot at it.” In Wisconsin, state schools superintendent Tony Evers narrowly defeated Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who was seeking a third term.

Mr. Evers said he was looking forward to working with the state’s two top Republican lawmakers on his campaign pledges of better schools, better roads and more affordable health care with protections for people with pre-existing conditions. “Knowing we may not fix all our problems with any single person or any election vote, the real work starts tomorrow,” he said Tuesday. “As I said throughout this campaign, it’s time for a change. The voters of Wisconsin spoke, and they agree.”

In Kansas, Laura Kelly, a Democratic state senator who touted her family’s military background, defeated Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Trump ally and strong backer of the administration’s immigration policies. Ms. Kelly campaigned on education and a shift from recent GOP governors’ policies of tax and spending cuts. In a victory speech Tuesday, Ms. Kelly said she would aim to work in a bipartisan way with state lawmakers, and that one of her first priorities would be funding schools.

“I will listen every day to leaders from both parties and to the people of this state,” she said. “We’ll take the best ideas no matter where they come from, and we’ll work together despite our political labels.” Looking ahead, some cautioned there is little correlation between midterm election results and a sitting president’s re-election chances. “The Midwest was historically the swing region, and it remains so,“ said Mr. Grossmann of Michigan State. ”They’ll be swing states from here on out.”

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Five takeaways from Michigan’s midterm election

November 8, 2018


By: Lindsay VanHulle & Jim Malewitz

A new Democratic governor, secretary of state and attorney general, and slimmer Republican majorities in the state legislature.

As Democrats gain a foothold on power in Lansing for the first time in eight years, Bridge asked pollsters, analysts, consultants and other experts about what Tuesday night’s results suggest about the issues that mattered, the electorate at large and what to expect in 2019.

Will the governor and legislature play well together?

Whitmer says her role in Senate leadership in the minority party forced her to compromise if Democrats were to make progress on any of their priorities, and that bipartisan work will carry over to her administration.

She told reporters Wednesday that bipartisanship is a “skill I’ve honed over the years” and that roads, schools and water are areas of common ground that unite Democrats and Republicans.

She said she is planning to meet legislative leaders next week to discuss possible road funding. (That could include taxes.) She met with Gov. Rick Snyder on Wednesday, and Whitmer said she plans to have regular meetings with leaders of both political parties.

Divided government presents both opportunities and challenges, said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber. His group’s political action committee endorsed Whitmer for governor in part because it said she was best-suited to find bipartisan solutions.

It’ll be in both Democrats’ and Republicans’ interests to craft compromises on big-ticket items such as improving infrastructure and education, Baruah said.

“Everyone’s already looking at 2020, and if the Republicans just obstruct between now and 2020, I think that’s going to put them in (a) pretty bad position for the 2020 election,” he said. “I think they’re going to want to show some accomplishments.”

State Rep. Tom Barrett, R-Potterville and the winner of a Senate seat previously held by Republican Rick Jones, suggested Michigan lawmakers can get things done even under split leadership.

“Even with Republicans in both chambers and a Republican governor, we still compromise on everything,” he said Tuesday night.

Blue wave? You betcha

Did a blue wave wash over Michigan as Democrats hoped? Yes, even as Republicans retained control of both chambers, said Arnold Weinfeld, associate director of the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research at Michigan State University.

“Republican-held seats did flip,” he said. “It wasn’t a tsunami, but I think it was a wave both here in Michigan and across the country.”

The House will go from a 63-47 Republican majority to 58-52; Democrats lost a seat in the Upper Peninsula to Republicans for a net gain of five.

Democrats also closed the GOP’s 27-11 supermajority in the Senate, shrinking the gap to 22-16.

Senate Democrats said earlier Tuesday that the party has not seen a net gain of more than a single seat in the upper chamber since 1974, when the pickup also was five.

Weinfeld said he was not surprised Democrats fell short of a majority in the House, and few experts predicted the party would take the Senate. Republicans’ heavy hand in drawing district boundaries (Michigan is seen as one of the most politically gerrymandered states) was too much to overcome, he said.

“At the end of the day, those maps tend to favor Republican candidates,” he said.

Democrats picked up seats on state education and university boards, which usually suggests a wave election, said Bernie Porn, president of Lansing-based polling firm EPIC-MRA. Candidates for those seats don’t have much statewide name recognition and are nominated by political parties.

But Porn said he was surprised that Democrats didn’t pick up more seats in the state Legislature. Their gains are “decent,” he said.

Some Republicans sought to explain Michigan’s shift to a more purple hue as almost an inevitability after a long stint of one-party control.

“It’s the second year of the presidency, as you know, and we tend to vote against the president’s party,” Ron Weiser, Michigan Republican Party chairman, told a subdued gathering of his party mates in Lansing just before Bill Schuette’s concession speech. “As you also know, every eight years we change parties in Michigan.”

Schuette pointed to national forces at play.

“It was a tough year, a tough political environment,” he told reporters following his loss Tuesday. “Look across the country. There are a lot of bumps out there, right? Some close races, some races that didn’t go the Republican way, midterm elections — all those things come into play.”

Said Tom Shields, a Republican political consultant and president of Lansing-based Marketing Resource Group Inc. said Whitmer “didn’t do anything to upset the wave and stop it from coming. And Bill Schuette just couldn’t find any issue out there that really caught on.”

Rockin’ the suburbs

Dems tend to do well in urban areas but the real story Tuesday may have been Democratic gains in the suburbs, said Weinfeld, the MSU expert.

“I don’t think we can discount the impact of suburban voters,” he said.

Michigan’s urban-rural divide “may be more stark now that population is moving more into urban and metropolitan areas, but that means that the suburbs begin to play a much bigger role, and I think we saw that in Michigan and across the country,” he said.

For instance, in Democrat Elissa Slotkin’s successful race to unseat U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, in Michigan’s 8th Congressional District: “I’m guessing that Slotkin wins on the strength of suburban areas” in Ingham and Oakland counties, Weinfeld said.

Women drive “pink wave”

That women swept the top of the ticket — from statewide offices, to the U.S. Senate — is “a historical occurrence,” said Weinfeld, of MSU.

And it’s part of a larger national trend. Women were motivated to turn out after Trump’s election in 2016 because they felt that issues they cared about were under threat in Washington, said Andrea Dew Steele, founder and president of Emerge America, a group that works to recruit and train Democratic women to run for office.

One of Emerge’s goals is to build a pipeline of female candidates at the local and state levels that could feed into federal races.

“The single reason we don’t have more women in office is traditionally because not enough women want to run,” Dew Steele said. “They don’t see politics as the arena in which they want to serve their community, and this did flip for us certainly after that election.

“This is not a wave that’s going to crash and die out.”

Mallory McMorrow, a first-time Democratic candidate from Royal Oak who flipped a GOP state Senate seat, said she was motivated to run for office after seeing a viral video of students at Royal Oak Middle School chanting “build the wall” after the 2016 election, mirroring the language at Trump campaign rallies.

“It broke something in me,” McMorrow told reporters Wednesday, on a conference call hosted by Emerge America. “I really realized that we have to start locally and build back up, because we cannot wait for the rhetoric to come from the top down.”

As a candidate, she said, “we weren’t trying to fit into a specific mold. And I think all of us were not running on our gender. We were running on our incredibly different backgrounds and experiences.”

Those backgrounds created a sense of authenticity voters responded to, said Maeve Coyle, a spokeswoman for EMILY’s List in Washington, D.C., a group that works to elect Democratic women to office.

Whitmer, Coyle said, she didn’t shy away from sexism in the campaign while sticking to messages about key issues.

“We still live in a world where women face that,” Coyle said, “and she hit the right tone in responding to all of that while staying true to herself.”

The polls were (generally) right

After failing to correctly predict the outcome in 2016, polls have gotten their share of skeptics.

They were more on target this year.

Schuette trailed Whitmer throughout the general election campaign, sometimes by double digits.

Porn, of EPIC-MRA, released a survey in October commissioned by the Detroit Free Press and other media outlets that showed Whitmer’s lead had shrank to 5 points. (With Wayne County’s results still unreported as of 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Whitmer was leading 50.2 percent to 46.8 percent, according to unofficial state election results.)

And his October survey came within a few points of the results for the three statewide ballot proposals, all of which passed.

“We feel really good about our polling,” Porn said.

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Analysis: Whitmer won on ‘damn roads;’ now she owns them

November 7, 2018

Crain’s Detroit 

By: Chad Livengood

Should she stand for re-election in four years, the Michigan governor’s race in 2022 could come down to one overarching question: Did Gretchen Whitmer actually fix the damn roads?

Whitmer’s campaign slogan of “fix the damn roads” found the pulse of voters as she sailed to a 9-percentage point victory Tuesday over Attorney General Bill Schuette and became Michigan’s 49th chief executive.

The newly minted Democratic governor-elect’s first major political challenge may be selling a Legislature with a smaller Republican majority on raising taxes for infrastructure that a larger GOP majority refused to do for Republican Gov. Rick Snyder three years ago.

Her Republican opponent struck out with a tax-cutting “paycheck agenda” as Michigan experiences an economic boom and the lowest unemployment rate in 18 years.

Schuette’s vow to reduce the state income tax from 4.25 percent to 3.9 percent — a tax cut that amounts to an annual savings of $175 for an individual with $50,000 of taxable income — didn’t come close to resonating with voters as much as Whitmer’s salty message about the Michigan’s long-neglected roads and infrastructure.

“The result of yesterday’s election is that people really sent us a very clear message: They want us to fix the damn roads,” Whitmer said Wednesday.

Now she has the daunting task of delivering before the roads deteriorate further and become more of an economic albatross for Michigan.

“Let me tell you, she’s going to be held accountable for fixing the damn roads,” said pollster Richard Czuba, president of Glengariff Group Inc. in Lansing, who called Whitmer’s campaign slogan politically “brilliant.”

There’s only a small window for Whitmer to get a Republican-controlled Legislature to swallow the size of tax increase that they rejected in the fall of 2015 when lawmakers passed a $600 million tax hike. That amounted to a 7-cents-per gallon increase in state fuel tax on unleaded gasoline and a 20 percent hike in vehicle registration fees.

That tax hike didn’t kick in until January 2017 — two months after the November 2016 election, of course — and the overall $1.2 billion road-funding plan won’t be fully funded until 2021.

Republican lawmakers assumed the gradual increase in funding would satisfy the state’s needs. The rapid deterioration of roads in Southeast Michigan last winter calls into question those assumptions.

And Whitmer exploited the GOP’s miscues and brushed off Schuette’s warnings that a Gov. Whitmer would deliver a 20- to 40-cents-per-gallon gas tax increase.

She never would commit to an actual dollar amount.

But unlike past elections in Michigan when taxes mattered a lot, voters apparently weren’t spooked by Whitmer’s clear lurch toward their wallets. That may be a sign that voters understand these tire-rim-bending roads won’t fix themselves.

Whitmer has said she wants to boost the $1.2 billion to $2 billion and use the additional state-generated taxes to draw down another $1 billion in matching federal funds.

The reality is, the $1.2 billion road-funding plan Gov. Rick Snyder signed in September 2015 was never going to fix all of the roads. In fact, they’re just getting worse with each passing winter, according to MDOT.

For state highways and trunk lines alone, MDOT projects pavement conditions will fall from 75 percent rated as “good” or “fair” today to 66 percent in 2021 and 48 percent in 10 years.

During the campaign, Schuette called Whitmer’s willingness to raise taxes “an economic collapse plan.” Based on MDOT’s projections, the current road-funding model is arguably a bridge collapse plan. It only partially paves over the problem.

“While transportation agencies are certainly very grateful for the legislative action that will provide some new state funding for transportation beginning in 2017, the reality is that the need for investment, particularly in roads and bridges, will not be fully addressed by that action,” Snyder’s 21st Century Infrastructure Commission wrote in its 189-page report that’s been gathering dust in Lansing for two years.

The commission estimated Michigan needs to spend $4 billion more annually on transportation, underground water infrastructure and broadband internet.

Whitmer, who spent 14 years in Legislature, has suggested she would abandon the GOP’s plan to earmark $600 million of the $1.2 billion from the state’s $10 billion general fund, which is under financial stress after growing less than 3 percent since 2000.

Whitmer may very well get the support of business groups like the Detroit Regional Chamber and Business Leaders for Michigan, which have opposed the Legislature’s move away from Michigan’s traditional method of funding roads with taxes on the cars and trucks that use and abuse the pavement.

“If the Republicans don’t deliver and are seen as overly obstructionist on fixing the roads, I think they’re going to be in for a tougher road in 2020 — and I think they realize that,” said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber.

Baruah, a longtime Republican who served in both Bush administrations, said the GOP’s anti-tax message is “just not resonating with voters anymore.”

“If that’s the message they’re going to use to not fix the roads, I think that means political problems for the Michgian Republican Party in 2020,” Baruah said.

By ending the general fund raid for road dollars, Whitmer would free up money to help pay for two of her other campaign pledges — a $100 million scholarship program to pay for the first two years of college and stopping the so-called “raid” of $900 million in School Aid funds that helps subsidize the state’s universities and community colleges.

Both are going to be heavy legislative lifts, especially since Whitmer has vowed to eliminate the income tax on pension income for Baby Boomers — another $300 million hit to the general fund.

Her campaign wish list for the general fund easily tops $1.3 billion.

“She’s gonna have to put those much-vaunted legislative skills to work,” Baruah said.

There are Republican legislators eager to get rid of the tax on pensions — and they would have done it by now if it weren’t for Snyder’s ability to veto such a tax cut.

“I think no matter who controls the Legislature, that’s coming to the desk,” Whitmer told Crain’s on the campaign trail in late September.

During the campaign, Whitmer said she’ll present lawmakers with a budget plan by February that funds her $3 billion plan to fix the roads.

That will inevitably include a proposed tax and fee increase for road users.

If the new Republican leaders refuse to go along with a tax hike, Whitmer has said she’ll mount a ballot campaign for a $20 billion, 10-year bond for roads and infrastructure — a get-out-the-damn-credit-card approach.

“If they’re not strong enough to do it, I’ve always said I’ll go to the voters and go for a bond,” the governor-elect said Wednesday.

All of this political wrangling will put the years-long road funding debate back in the spotlight in February, March and April — just in time for another pothole season.

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Statement on the Michigan governor’s race results:

DETROIT, Mich. Nov. 6, 2018 —

“We congratulate incoming Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and look forward to working with her administration to continue Michigan’s positive momentum.  Michigan has benefited from strong, stable and calm leadership for eight years and we are committed to continuing this positive flywheel.  The Chamber’s Political Action Committee (PAC) endorsed Whitmer and is ready to help the new governor deliver on plans for improving infrastructure, regional transit and education outcomes.”

Sandy K. Baruah, President and CEO, Detroit Regional Chamber


Howes: Strong economy poses risks for next governor — whoever it is

November 5, 2018

The Detroit News

By: Daniel Howes

Michigan’s next governor will inherit something the state’s last three CEOs didn’t — the strongest economy in close to 50 years.

Job creation is up, unemployment is plumbing record lows and per-capita income is rising. State tax policy is once again deemed competitive. And for the first time in decades, Detroit is on generally solid financial footing, attracting billions in private capital and fundamentally changing the narrative of America’s poorest major city.

The challenge for Gov. Rick Snyder’s successor: don’t screw it up. Whatever you think of the Republican incumbent, he used the lessons of the “Lost Decade” over the past eight years to assemble a record of disciplined financial management and pragmatic problem-solving that reassured business and often transcended the partisan divide in a hyper-partisan era.

With the notable exception of the Flint water crisis, Michigan is on sounder economic ground than any time in at least a generation. Its auto industry is restructured and, for now, profitable. Its tech sector is growing. And its metrics of performance are consistently improving instead of declining as they did in the run-up to the Great Recession.

If history is any guide — and it usually is in this state — the most likely outcome of Tuesday’s election won’t so much mean more of the same, even if Republican Bill Schuette proves the polls wrong and wins. It’ll be what Business Leaders for Michigan’s CEO, Doug Rothwell, calls the state’s “consistent inconsistency” on the priorities and policy-making that impact investment, growth and job creation.

Meaning that whenever the out-of-power party regains the governor’s office, control of the Legislature or both, Michigan’s political tradition pretty much ensures that tax, spending and economic development policies are overturned summarily, whipsawing business by rewarding friends and punishing enemies. It’s not helpful.

“The Lost Decade was not an accident,” said Patrick Anderson, CEO of the East Lansing-based Anderson Economic Group. “We lost that decade. It was a self-inflicted wound. It wasn’t just bad conditions. It was bad management.”

His counsel for whoever succeeds Snyder: first, do not undermine the dramatic improvement in Michigan’s business-tax climate, now ranked in the top 10 nationwide. Second, do not succumb to the budget brinksmanship of the Granholm years, including the occasional middle-of-the-night tax increase. And keep the momentum going on Detroit.

“Don’t fall back into the old, poisonous ways,” Anderson added. “Then we’re going to be signaling that we’re slipping back into the kind of incompetence and self-defeating activity that marred some of Michigan during the Lost Decade.”

Detroit is undergoing an unmistakable rebound. Credit the city’s Chapter 9 bankruptcy, which Snyder ordered. Credit business and political leaders in both parties who coalesced behind an agenda of reinvention. Credit private capital driving the resurgence — billions of dollars invested in the old bones of downtown and Midtown under a pragmatic mayor who understands business as well as politics.

And that’s precisely the balance Schuette or Democrat Gretchen Whitmer should emulate upon taking office. They can either build on the bipartisan economic consensus crafted by business, by philanthropy, by Snyder and Mike Duggan — two comparatively nominal partisans with a bias for focusing on what works.

Or the next governor can muck up Michigan’s mojo and alienate half the state and much of the business community by reversing reforms to reward their favorite constituencies and score ideological points, whatever the dollars-and-cents impact to Michigan’s budget and business climate.

Case in point: Whitmer and fellow Democrats running for legislative seats vow to repeal the state’s right-to-work law, to repeal the so-called “pension tax” levied on defined-benefit payouts of public-sector retirees, to reinstate the Prevailing Wage Law. And Schuette promises yet another tax cut, even as Michigan’s roads crumble and education funding mostly flatlines.

An alternative favored by some of the state’s leading business groups is to continue practicing the fiscal discipline favored by Michigan’s current CEO-turned-governor. To continue paying down long-term debt; to continue delivering balanced budgets on time and without drama; to maximize the tax base without discouraging investment.

“That positive flywheel is working,” said Sandy Baruah, CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber. “We certainly don’t want that tinkered with.”

And continue to avoid the Trump-era polarization defining politics in too many parts of the country. Snyder eschewed such extreme partisanship, preferring to practice a “relentless positive action” that enabled big things (see the Detroit bankruptcy) considered too hard to tackle.

Michigan’s next governor should take care to avoid breaking what’s already fixed. The second half of the past 16 years proved two things: that governors don’t cause macro-economic recessions, and that undisciplined, anti-business financial management at the state level tends to make the predicament worse.

Business cycles don’t conform to electoral cycles, as Granholm could attest. Her successor’s tenure coincided with the longest year-over-year sales and profit expansion for the Detroit auto industry since the 1960s, as well as the longest national economic recovery the country has seen in decades.

Snyder’s successor may not be so fortunate. Even as it reported surprisingly strong third-quarter results, General Motors Co. last week confirmed plans to offer buyouts to 18,000 salaried employees and signaled that rising interest rates and trade uncertainty are combining to create an industry slowdown.

Ford Motor Co. is deep in a global restructuring that is expected to claim a slice of its global salaried workforce. As the Federal Reserve continues to raise rates, equity markets are telegraphing uncertainty and worries that corporate earnings mostly have nowhere to go but down.

Major challenges loom for the state. The educational attainment of its public school students is a national embarrassment, worsening as most other states improve. Repairs to its roads and transportation infrastructure are desperately needed, but the legislators in the state that put America on wheels can’t — won’t — figure out how to pay for it.

Making headway on those and other serious issues won’t be accomplished unilaterally, no matter who prevails in this election. It’ll take consensus and a lot less worrying about who gets the credit.

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