Start of the Legislative Session

The Michigan Legislature wrapped up the first quarter of the legislative session yesterday with a rare July session, taking up the Chamber supported Good Jobs package.

The legislation which would provide incentives to companies that create 250 or 500 new jobs in Michigan, maintaining our competitiveness with other states. We applaud Governor Snyder, Senate Majority Leader Meekhof and our legislative leaders who supported this package. It will strongly position Michigan as a national jobs and investment leader.

The Legislature now heads home for a summer in-district work period. Leading up to this break the Chamber had a successful six months with many priorities becoming law. This includes increased funding to help employers meet talent needs, reforms to address more than $29 billion of unfunded liabilities in the teacher pension system and a transformational brownfield package that will spur major redevelopment projects throughout the state.

Top Takeaways

Budget/Talent Training Grants

The Chamber fought for an increase of funding for the Going Pro program (formerly known as the Skilled Trades Training Fund) and is thrilled to share it received an $11 million increase from last year, for a total of $41.9 million.

“Talent is a top priority for our members and when we think about programs that have helped move the needle, the Going Pro program has been an invaluable tool,” said Allie Bush Idema, Director of Government Affairs. “In 2017, this program helped upskill or train over 4,000 individuals in West Michigan alone. We’re excited to see this program expanded so it can positively impact more lives and companies.”

Stay tuned for more information from the Chamber on how your company can take advantage of this program at an upcoming orientation.

 Unfunded Liability Reform

The Legislature passed “MPSERS Reform” which will provide future Michigan public school employees’ the option to choose between a more lucrative 401(k) retirement system or a less enticing pension system.

“The Legislature took a strong step to reform a system that has ballooned from $0 in unfunded liabilities in 1997 to over $29.1 billion while protecting the promises made to current and retired teachers,” said Rick Baker, President & CEO. “By addressing this debt, and offering a robust retirement for new teachers, we can reduce the risk to teacher benefits and work to put more dollars in the classroom.”

Michigan Thrive Package

Chamber supported legislation was signed into law that will provide up to $5 billion in incentives for major brownfield redevelopment projects that will transform communities throughout the state.

“We applaud our legislators for supporting this bipartisan package. These days economic development is talent development and one of the best ways to keep our kids here and attract and retain the best and the brightest from across the globe is to do all we can to create thriving cities with strong job opportunities,” said Andy Johnston, Vice President of Government Affairs. “This legislation is key to closing existing funding gaps surrounding brownfield sites and creating vibrant communities where Michiganders can live, work and play.”

Still to Come

A few Chamber priorities saw movement this year but are still awaiting action in the Legislature before they become law. These include:

  • legislation to provide high school students greater flexibility to obtain 21st century skills,
  • reforms to the Michigan Tax Tribunal,
  • a bill to remove school calendars from the negotiating table,
  • smart criminal justice reform,
  • and the reform of unfunded liabilities for local units of government.

Questions? Contact Andy Johnston at johnstona@grandrapids.org or 616.771.0335.

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