S. S. Trudeau

State of the State (of Michigan), 2024

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This post is a repost of a thread I posted on Txitter the day before Governor Whitmer's State of the State.

Here's my observation of the State of the State (of Michigan).

  1. We are failing to retain our young people, our educated people, and people able to work and to attract new people to live here: "Can Michigan defuse its population time bomb? See how far we fall short" --Bridge Magazine, May 2023.

  2. The housing crisis that began on the coasts has spread throughout the entire country. Michigan's relative advantage of low housing costs has quickly shrunk away: "Detroit Housing Market is Growing Fastest in the US" --Norada (sourcing CoreLogic), Jan 2024

  3. High household transportation costs (due to forced car dependency, and high auto insurance premiums) exacerbate the now rapidly increasing prices for housing. "Few Michigan neighborhoods affordable when commuting costs added"--Planet Detroit/Capital News Service (sourcing Citizens Research Council of Michigan), Nov 2023

  4. Meanwhile, despite an incredible recovery in manufacturing jobs and a reenergized union movement, Michigan continues to slide in the rankings of personal income growth. "Michigan losing ground economically, now 39th in personal income, report says"--Crains Detroit, Jan 2024 (sourcing Michigan Future )

Michigan has a lot going for it. Our natural areas are stellar. We have plenty of fresh water. We still have the bones of a strong educational system and competent state government. You can legally get an abortion. We have fair electoral maps. All that alone is not enough to stem the tide. If our population continues to become older, less able to work, and less educated, everyone's quality of life will fall, and maintaining the things that are great here will be even more challenging.

We need to create places where young, educated, and able-to-work people both want to and can afford to live. Housing costs/policy and transportation access/costs are fundamental to achieving that, and the areas State leaders are the most myopic & ineffective.

We are no longer a place with cheap housing (in the kinds of places people want to live), with relatively high middle-class wages. Our cars-only transportation system is already unaffordable to maintain and incredibly expensive for households to sustain. Subsidies for more cars to drive on roads we already can't afford to maintain, token transit projects, and expensive "innovation" gimmicks aren't cutting it.

Our State building code is far behind the most progressive building codes in the country (let alone other countries), allowing better, cheaper, greener construction. Our lack of State zoning guidance & fractured municipal governance structure incentivizes policies of exclusion.

Our State property tax system starves municipalities of revenue and further locks new residents out while also locking long-term residents in place, unable to afford to move.

Companies that want to grow here with higher-paying knowledge work jobs inevitably establish locations elsewhere where talent is easier to recruit and retain. Massive tax breaks for battery factories in distant greenfields aren't going to change that.

Living in this State so often feels like watching an unending series of slow-motion car wrecks from inside a soundproof booth where nobody can hear you scream.

You Can in Michigan!

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