LANSING – In her third State of the State Address, Governor Jennifer M. Granholm announced Tuesday evening a comprehensive plan to fuel Michigan’s 21st century economy and create tens of thousands of good-paying jobs.
“The foundation of a good life is a good-paying job,” Granholm told a joint session of the Legislature. After describing her three-point Jobs Today and Jobs Tomorrow plan, the Governor called on lawmakers to act. “I ask you, tonight, to build Michigan’s future with me. I am moving forward; move with me.”
Granholm’s Jobs Today, Jobs Tomorrow plan outlines a three-pronged strategy to create jobs immediately and diversify and grow Michigan’s future economy. It will:
To create jobs of the future, Granholm announced a 21st Century Jobs Initiative that will make Michigan the nation’s epicenter of alternative energy research, a leader in the biotech industry, and a hotbed for homeland security R&D. The initiative calls for a $2 billion investment over 10 years to grow Michigan’s economy by increasing research in our university, corporate, and non-profit research institutions and by stepping up efforts to turn new ideas into new commercial products. Michigan voters will be asked to approve a ballot measure this November that would authorize the Governor’s plan to create 72,000 jobs over the next decade.
Granholm told lawmakers her plan could have revolutionary impact on the state’s economy: “Imagine Michigan, the state that put the nation on wheels as the state that made those wheels run on pollution free fuel cells, the state that made these United States independent of foreign oil.”
To put thousands of Michigan residents to work this year, Granholm proposed a Jobs Today Initiative that will speed up state and local infrastructure improvement projects that were scheduled to begin over the next decade and provide incentives that will lead to new private development and renovation projects. This acceleration will create some 36,000 new jobs over three years in the building trades, construction, and related service industries. By repairing roads, modernizing schools, cleaning industrial sites, and renovating downtowns, the Jobs Today Initiative will also improve Michigan’s quality of life and make the state more attractive to job providers.
Granholm also announced a new initiative to cut unemployment by rapidly filling 90,000 job vacancies that exist in the state today. Granholm said a new MI Opportunity Partnership could match and place as many as 30,000 citizens who are looking for work with a job this year through training programs focused on the skilled trades and health care fields. “If Michigan hospitals can run ads for nurses in Montreal, surely we can train people on Mack Avenue or in Monroe or Munising for those career opportunities,” Granholm said.
Noting that higher education is the key to economic success in the 21st century, Granholm called for a new educational compact that will build Michigan’s future workforce by rewarding success in post-secondary education. Beginning with the class of 2007, all Michigan students will receive a $4,000 new Merit scholarship when they successfully obtain an associate’s degree, its equivalent or earn junior status at a Michigan college. The new scholarship is equal to two years of in-district tuition at a Michigan community college and will result in the phasing out of the existing $2,500 Merit scholarship. For students who receive Pell grants, the new Merit scholarship will make up the difference between their federal grant and $4,000.
In closing, Granholm said, “The cynics will look at this plan and say we can’t do it. But, I argue we must. The naysayers will say we can’t afford to do it. But, I say, with the changes in our global economy, we can’t afford not to.