Jase Bolger: GOP’s leadership makes a difference in Michigan
At the state Capitol, we’ve been focused on the needs of Michigan’s hardworking men and women. House Republicans have set the goal of improving career opportunities for Michigan’s workers and their families.
When you compare where we were with where we are, there’s no question Michigan is moving in the right direction.
Before Republicans were given the responsibility of leading the state House starting in January 2011, Michigan went through two government shutdowns because the budgets weren’t done on time.
Through effective and accountable results, we have now finished two state budgets four months early. Getting our job done early should be the new normal in state government.
Before January 2011, our state was reeling from an annual budget deficit of more than $1.5 billion that simply rolled over from year to year. Through making governmentmore efficient, we now have structurally balanced budgets comprised of real numbers and actual savings.
Before January 2011, the state was only piling onto debt, forcing our kids to inherit our problems. Since January 2011, we have reduced that debt by $20 billion, which equates to about $10,000 less obligation for every child in Michigan.
Throughout the prior decade, we saw the state’s rainy day fund depleted to the paltry sum of $2 million — hardly enough to run state government for 30 minutes. Through responsible budgeting, we now have a savings balance of more than $500 million, and it’s still growing.
By the end of 2010, Michigan’s unemployment rate was 11.7%. We made sure jobs were our top priority by improving the state’s competitiveness and letting job providers know we are open for business. And that has led to momentum in Michigan’s job sector, as more small hire more people. Now, Michigan’s unemployment rate is 8.4%, the lowest level since January 2009. Certainly, that’s still too high, but more than 171,000 private-sector jobs have been created in the past two years. We still have a long way to go to replace the nearly 1 million jobs that went away during Michigan’s “lost decade,” but this is a great trend.
More important than raw job numbers, however, is what those jobs mean for Michigan and its residents. Our state had the fifth highest growth rate in the nation in 2011, with personal income growing more than 5%, a full percentage point faster than the national average. That is helping more people keep their homes. We used to rank 50 out of 50 for the worst states for foreclosure and we’re now ranked number 16.
More jobs, more prosperity and more opportunities for success in Michigan mean people are finally returning home, too. In the 2010 census, Michigan was the only state to lose population, and we used to rank No. 1 in moving company statistics for outbound states. Now, finally, people are moving back to Michigan. I often hear stories from people thrilled to have their kids and grandkids move back to Michigan again.
Our work in the Capitol is far from done, but we are headed in the right direction because the future of Michigan’s hardworking taxpayers has come first. Michigan’s brightest days are again ahead of us.
By Jase BolgerDetroit Free Press guest writer
Jase Bolger, a Republican from Marshall, is speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives.