State Sen. John Moolenaar said Friday that Gov. Rick Snyder's state of the state address was upbeat because it focused on growth that has taken place for the last two years. Snyder also told lawmakers about a projected $970 million in surplus revenues, and hinted workers might get some tax relief.
"For the last two years, Michigan has gained in population," Moolenaar said. "People have stayed in our state. They are coming to our state. All these economic indicators point that we're moving forward and are on the right track."
When the Midland Republican was a state representative in 2002 to 2008, things weren't quite as rosy.
"When I served in the House, there was annually a $1.5 billion deficit and we were losing jobs," Moolenaar said. "What we're seeing now is the state coming together. We're getting things done in state government and we're providing long-term solutions."
Among changes affecting Northeast Michigan, Moolenaar said agricultural production and exports were up in 2013. Automobile production increased dramatically and personal income has risen in the last six months.
"Another thing we're going to be debating and discussing in the legislature this year is giving some kind of tax relief to hardworking residents," he said. "But it needs to be something that is sustainable - based on good public policy as our economy grows."
In his hour-long address to a joint session of the legislature, Snyder also addressed the need to being more talent to the state.
"The governor focused on legal immigration in making Michigan a welcoming place for new Americans," Moolenaar said. "He wanted to set up an office within his administration to help new Americans take part in the American dream and build on those strengths in Michigan.
"I thought that was the tone and it was based on recognizing so many contributions of our citizens, who have come from other countries," Moolenaar said.
The governor also emphasized his support for early education programs, but has been criticized in the past for the decline in public school funding in Northeast Michigan.
"The number one factor that will help our area schools is population growth," Moolenaar said. "The reason schools have declining enrollment is because people have left our state, and people have had to move because of the economy."
Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Betsy on Twitter @bl_alpenanews