ESCANABA - The state of Michigan has the second healthiest economy in the nation since Gov. Rick Snyder has been in office, according to an assistant who spoke at a meeting of local leaders on Wednesday.
During the monthly joint governmental meeting in Escanaba, Greg Andrews, director of the Governor's Office for Northern Michigan, updated those in attendance on some of the governor's initiatives during the past 18 months.
Andrews touted the administration's biggest achievement as the state budget, which was approved earlier than it has been completed in decades, while also showing a surplus of $48 million last year. Officials are looking at increasing the budget this year, he added.
Andrews said the state is turning around economically in large part due to legislators making difficult decisions. By eliminating the state business tax, Michigan's corporate rate has went from the 49th to the seventh best nationally, he said. New jobs have been created and personal income is also up, he said.
A local example of the economy getting a boost is Manistique Papers Inc., which was facing bankruptcy and is now progressing, said Andrews.
The state's new budget is close to being completed as job creation continues to be a priority, he said. The governor and legislators are also looking at the personal property tax, which hinders company investments on manufacturing equipment, discourages job growth, and limits company expansions into the state, he said.
On the other hand, communities receiving these taxes are concerned about how these local revenues will be made up in their budgets, Andrews acknowledged, listening to concerns expressed by local leaders Wednesday.
Current proposals being considered by legislators exempt new manufacturing investments from the personal property tax, consider making up the tax loss with expiring tax credits, and exclude smaller businesses from paying the personal property tax.
Other topics briefly discussed by those attending the joint meeting included local transportation concerns, court and jail upgrade needs, and combatting the state's practice of unfunded mandates.
The joint meeting will not he held in July. The next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 8 at Escanaba City Hall.