Broad support seen for strategies to invest in job creation, higher education, infrastructure, vital community services, and outdoor conservation
The Michigan Economic Center (MEC) at the Prima Civitas Foundation (PCF) released the initial results from its “Michigan Dream Restored” project that seeks to provide independent research and policy development around investment in public goods that are central to the state’s economic growth. The project’s interim report includes the findings from citizen focus groups and a statewide 1,000 person survey that identified shared citizen values and priorities for improving Michigan’s economy. The focus groups and survey tested the citizen appeal of various approaches for making valued investments in higher education, roads/infrastructure, community services, job creation, and outdoor conservation.
Please click here to view a digital version of the full report.
Please click here to download the full report.
Please click here to follow news coverage of the report.
“Michigan citizens overwhelmingly believe that public investments create the important conditions that drive economic growth, and they want to support those necessary investments – if investments speak to citizen values and have impact,” said MEC Director John Austin, who led the project.
Highlights of the Interim Report findings include:
- 64 percent of Michigan citizens believe the most important thing state government can do for job creation is to “provide quality education, good roads and transportation, good public services like safety, water, fire, parks and libraries that create an environment in which people want to live, work and run a business.” This contrasts with 29 percent who believe the most important thing state government can do is to “cut taxes for individuals and business. That’s what really creates jobs.”
- 51 percent of citizens believe important public services (including road repair, local police and fire, quality schools and higher education, and state parks) are in worse or much worse condition today than 10 to 15 years ago.
According to the surveys, Michiganders most value:
Hard work being rewarded with economic opportunity;
A good place to raise a family and keeping family close - by having communities to be proud of, that attract business, and keep our children from leaving for more vibrant communities outside of Michigan; and
Having good places to escape (recreate, enjoy the outdoors, lakes, “Pure Michigan”) – as respite from "hard work" and as part of having a good place to raise and be with family.
- When asked about problems they see Michigan facing and their “urgency” levels, top ranking issues included: ensuring public safety and fighting crime (66 percent saying they are urgent problems that need to be dealt with now and 27 percent more saying they are very important and should be dealt with soon); providing quality education (70 percent “now," 22 percent “soon”); protecting Great Lakes and natural resources (66 percent “now,” 25 percent “soon”); and supporting small business and innovation (57 percent “now," 33 percent” soon).
- While supportive of increased investment in public goods, citizens want any public investment to be combined with reforms to ensure money is not wasted (65 percent say “high taxes and government waste” is an “urgent” concern, 22 percent say "deal with it soon").
- In raising revenue to pay for valued public good investment strategies, a majority of Michigan citizens said they wanted “polluters to pay” taxes (70 percent strongly favor, 13 somewhat favor); taxes to be levied on extractive industries (48 percent “strongly," 17 percent “somewhat”); an increase in sin taxes (49 percent “strongly,” 16 percent “somewhat”); and a progressive or graduated income tax (38 percent “strongly," 25 percent “somewhat”).
The findings of the Interim Report were collected through the following:
- Focus group sessions conducted throughout Michigan that tested citizen values and priorities for the economy and a range of public good investment strategies gathered from Michigan proposals and successful efforts across the nation. Rigorous screening ensured balanced demographics and political viewpoints. Download the full report on the focus group findings and policy scan at http://bit.ly/X7cPrp.
- EPIC - MRA administered telephone interviews with 1,000 adult Michigan residents from November 24th to December 1st 2012 to validate and refine the values, priorities, and most attractive policy and funding ideas from the citizen focus groups. The larger than normal sample provides a +/-3.1 percent (at 95 percent confidence interval) for questions with 1000 responses. Download the full survey report and analysis at http://bit.ly/VWBJ9G.
“Collectively these findings provide powerful insight and direction concerning Michigan citizen values and priorities for economic improvement,” said Austin. “With further refinement and citizen input, they can help us figure out as a state how to smartly invest in critical Michigan assets that our public cares about and that underpin our economy.”
The MEC plans to use these findings to reinforce the importance that Michigan citizens place on investing in public goods they value in the context of state policy discussions, and further research and develop particular investment strategies that may have broad support among Michigan citizens.
The “Michigan Dream Restored” project is funded by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and supported through individual and institutional contributions.
To learn more about the "Michigan Dream Restored" initiative, please click here!