Michigan Chamber, Mackinac Center Release Guidelines to Restart State Economy After Pandemic

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce in Lansing and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, an independent think tank in Midland, have released a list of nine guiding principles the organizations encourage state policymakers consider as they develop plans to restart the state’s economy.
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Michigan quarter on bills
The Michigan Chamber and Mackinac Center for Public Policy have released guidelines on restarting Michigan’s economy after the pandemic. // Stock photo

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce in Lansing and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, an independent think tank in Midland, have released a list of nine guiding principles the organizations encourage state policymakers consider as they develop plans to restart the state’s economy.

“State policymakers’ No. 1 priority should be to protect the public health, but they must also acknowledge that businesses that can open responsibly with recognized safety protocols should be allowed to do so,” says Rich Studley, president and CEO of the chamber. “Ultimately, it’s going to be Michigan’s entrepreneurs, job providers, and their employees who will rebuild Michigan’s economy. Government can help, but we don’t need another new state department of economic recovery.”

The organizations say that in order for Michigan’s economy to recover, the government needs to develop policies that will allow businesses to reopen and employees to safely return to work as soon as possible.

“Government officials should also avoid playing favorites in developing policies for recovery,” says Joe Lehman, president of the Mackinac Center. “Economic recovery efforts should be fair, broad-based, and focused on making it easier for entrepreneurs to grow and for job creators to expand.”

The guidelines call for policy makers to create clear and consistent expectations for employers. Decisions related to the emergency and recovery should be transparent and accompanied with supporting rationale. The organizations say that even though these are unprecedented times, policymakers’ role is still limited.

The organizations say there is no need to sacrifice public health for economic growth. A fast recovery is possible, the organizations say, and with the right approach, Michigan’s economy can come out stronger than before.

Guiding principles:

Public Health and State of Emergency

  • Public Health First: Policymakers’ No. 1 priority should be to protect the public health, but also remember that productive, rewarding work is a key to physical and mental well-being. The state should focus on metrics related to safety and help businesses create safe workplaces as soon as possible. Businesses that can reopen responsibly using recognized safety protocols should be allowed to do so.
  • We Must Live with Risk: Every day, millions of Michiganders take countless risks to their health and safety – driving their cars, working around the house, eating out. These are risks we are comfortable taking regularly, and eliminating all of them is not a realistic standard. Michigan’s economic recovery must start even in the face of some risk.
  • This Emergency is Temporary: Even though the emergency declaration Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued was necessary, the legislature remains an important voice in the debate and should evaluate the current and future orders, consistent with their powers. In addition, lawmakers and interested parties should thoroughly review the emergency powers in statute and improve them to better address future crises.

Policy Guidelines

  • Consistency and Clarity: Policymakers will have to make many important decisions in the near future. They should strive for consistency and clarity, as these decisions will impact entrepreneurs, job providers, and their employees. None of these decisions are easy, but the ability of businesses to adjust is improved if they are clear and follow a predictable logic.
  • Transparency: The law grants the governor extraordinary power during a time of crisis, but that should not diminish the responsibility the government has to be transparent to the public. Policymakers should openly explain their decisions and the supporting rationale used to make them. This will help foster trust with Michiganders, many of whom have been severely impacted by these emergency orders.
  • Resist Playing Favorites: While some firms have been impacted more than others, policymakers should not single out certain industries and businesses for special treatment in the recovery. Nearly every business has been impacted one way or another, and recovery policies should apply as broadly as possible.

Economic Recovery

  • Economic Growth and Public Health Go Hand-in-Hand: There is no need to sacrifice public health for economic growth, or vice versa. But there is a negative impact on public health from economic recessions, too. Policymakers need to make this part of the equation when crafting policies for the emergency and for the recovery.
  • A Limited Role for Government: While providing important support and guidance, policymakers should view their role as a limited one in the recovery. It will be Michigan’s entrepreneurs and hard-working employees who will ultimately rebuild Michigan’s economy. Recovery plans should not be focused on expanding government’s reach or creating new government departments.
  • Focus on the Fundamentals: A full economic recovery will require creating a fertile environment for new businesses to start and incumbent firms to create new jobs. This should be the primary focus of state aid and policy in the recovery: promote free enterprise, entrepreneurship, and new job creation.

More information and the guidelines are available here.

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