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New Plan: MI Business Tax Cut is Only Part of Formula for Success

May 18, 2011

LANSING, Mich. - Michigan businesses are looking forward to recently approved tax breaks, but organizations that help struggling families say that without investment in what they call "human capital," those reduced taxes aren't likely to help move the economy forward.

Michigan League for Human Services is proposing a legislative agenda aimed at preparing Michigan workers for the jobs that could be available as the state economy recovers. The gist is that a good business climate is only a part of economic recovery.

The 14-point plan includes attention to education, housing and transportation. Gilda Jacobs, the league's chief executive officer, says those are all factors in ensuring that Michigan can become a more prosperous state.

"Reports have taxes not at the top of the list on why businesses either grow here, stay here or move here. They're all quality-of-life issues: good education, good infrastructure, good roads, good medical care, highly educated work forces. Those are the reasons that people want to come to Michigan."

One in four Michigan residents receives some form of public assistance, Jacobs says, adding that it's important to position low-income working families so that they will be prepared for jobs as the economy recovers. The Legislature has a role to play in that, she says.

"Access to transportation; that's really important to get people back to work. We want to improve health care for low-income families, early childhood schooling, day care for people who have to go back to work. We need to reinvest in higher education and incentivize our young people, once they get their education, to stay here in Michigan."

The tax system should be revamped with the addition of a graduated income tax, Jacobs says. She also believes, based on passage of recent millage proposals across the state, that voters may approve fees or additional taxes to improve certain human services.

Jacobs and others plan to take the "Road Map to Opportunity and Prosperity," to the Legislature. Details of the plan are at milhs.org.

Amy Miller/Laura Thornquist, Public News Service - MI