Tuesday, September 8, 2009
[Mike] Cox proposes 92 ideas for turning Michigan around
Mark Hornbeck / Detroit News Lansing Bureau
Lansing -- Attorney General Mike Cox, a Republican candidate for governor, put out 92 ideas for fixing Michigan today, including cutting taxes in his first year in office by $2 billion and increasing spending for higher education by $185 million.
His 60-page strategy for turning the state around, titled "Putting Michigan Back to Work: The First Steps," included some new ideas, old ideas and even ideas he's proposed in the past.
He said his plan is "organized around a pro-growth, freedom idea" that emphasizes lower taxes and more efficient government.
Many of the proposals have been around for awhile, but the state has lacked the will to executive them, Cox said.
"People are looking for leadership, and they're also looking for ideas," he said at a news conference at the Michigan Chamber of Commerce headquarters.
"These ideas are out there. You just need the will to start pushing them."
Among his proposals:
• Cut the Michigan Business Tax in half and roll back the state income tax increase enacted two years ago. The $2 billion tax cut would happen in his first year in office.
Asked whether the state then needs to look at $4.8 billion in cuts and savings rather than the $2.8 billion it is addressing to resolve a shortfall in the coming budget year, Cox said: "Is it going to be hard to do? Absolutely."
• Get back to 2002 levels in higher education spending, starting with a $185 million increase. He said states that are doing well are boosting spending on colleges and universities.
He refused to say, however, whether he would support maintaining Promise Grants of up to $4,000 for Michigan college students. The Republican-controlled Senate has proposed eliminating them.
• Squeeze at least 10 percent out of the $21 billion in state contracts, much in the same way that the automakers recently won concessions from their contractors.
• Keep the Michigan Economic Growth Authority tax credits as an economic development tool, but slashing business taxes overall would be the chief strategy.
"We're advertising to the rest of the country that we're a crappy place to come (to do business)," he said.
• Pool health insurance for all public sector employees, similar to a plan introduced by House Speaker Andy Dillon, D-Redford Township. He would require that state employees and teachers contribute more toward their health coverage.
• Remove the cap on charter schools and set up a merit pay system for teachers.