Detroit Renaissance Praises Sen. Bishop and Sen. Jelinek for Keeping Focus on Budget

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DETROIT, January 29, 2009 – Detroit Renaissance, a private, non-profit leadership organization dedicated to accelerating the region’s economic growth, urges legislators to focus on budget reform instead of relying on money from the federal stimulus bill to provide a one-time patch to the budget. The organization praises Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop for calling on the federal government to require states to adopt reforms as a condition for getting stimulus funds. It also praises Senator Ron Jelinek (R-Three Oaks), Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, for calling on his colleagues to balance the state’s budget with appropriate cuts rather than using federal stimulus money as a temporary fix.

“We commend Senators Bishop and Jelinek and for having the courage to stand up for what is necessary for the long term fiscal viability of the state,” said Doug Rothwell, president, Detroit Renaissance. “While the federal stimulus may eliminate the immediate deficit, it will only be a temporary patch for the current systemic problems, creating a losing proposition for Michigan’s financial future and its citizens.”

Detroit Renaissance and many other business and civic groups have been calling on the state to enact serious budget reforms for the past year. These groups collectively cited over $1.5 billion in annual savings opportunities. These can be found at www.thecenterformichigan.net.

For example, Detroit Renaissance released a report last year that identified state budget structural reforms that could result in an approximate $800 million savings over 10 years. The findings were developed by Public Sector Consultants, a Lansing based consulting firm and can be found at www.detroitrenaissance.com/reports.

The report focuses on reform in four policy areas: Corrections, Medicaid, Teacher Retirement Benefits, and State Government Employee Health Benefits. These four policy areas represent a significant portion of the state budget. In addition, a statewide survey of Michigan voters commissioned by Detroit Renaissance last year revealed that 77% either support reforms or reduced spending compared to only 6% that felt raising taxes was the best way to fix Michigan’s fiscal challenges. The recommendations in the report are among the six concepts that received strong support among state voters, higher than 58.8%.

About Detroit Renaissance:
Detroit Renaissance provides leadership to accelerate the economic transformation of Detroit and Southeast Michigan. Renaissance accomplishes this work through serving as a catalyst to develop growth strategies, advocating for those strategies and championing specific initiatives that accelerate growth. A 501(c)(3) organization that was formed in 1970, Detroit Renaissance includes the chief executive officers of the region’s most significant employers and universities. For more information, visit www.detroitrenaissance.com.

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