Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Gov. Jennifer Granholm's State of the State Address

Michiganders love to complain about the state's infamously horrible roads. Full of tire-popping, crater-sized pot holes, the ribbons of highways that bisect and connect our state are falling to pieces, quite literally. However, the faulty roads have taken a back-seat in the media spotlight, which now shines blindingly on the newest fault - Michigan's struggling economy. Much like our roads, our economy and infrastructure are full of holes. Huge, gaping ones. Rather than a simple patch job, the rejuvenation of Michigan requires a full reconstruction and reformation. Michiganders also love to complain about construction, but this sort of work is needed. Under the leadership of Gov. Granholm, I think that we'll come out of this year with a good foundation laid. Soon, the Motor City and the state as a whole will be rolling along again.

This brings me to Gov. Granholm's "State of the State" address, which just aired. I have the utmost respect of Gov. Granholm, but I'll resist sounding like a fangirl...

"I will not sugar-coat the severity of the crisis," began the governor. Her hour-long speech overflowed with war-like vocabulary. Battle plans, soldiers, fighting for and protecting the "army of determined citizens" that make up Michigan. Allusions abounded. At first, I feared that her address would in fact be a lecture on nationalism. Fortunately, I was wrong.

The Granholm Administration's plan for reviving Michigan is a combination of job creation and the renewable energy industry. Over the last few years, Michigan's government has saved about $60 million in taxpayers' money by converting to more efficiency and green technologies. Some of these changes were as simple as screwing in better lightbulbs. This 23% cut is only the beginning. In Granholm's "45 by 20" goal, she has challenged the state to reduce their reliance on fossil fuel by 45% by the year 2020. The $2 billion that Michigan annually spends on importing coal from other states can go toward wind and solar power technologies within the state. "Energy entrepreneurs," she called us, as she outlined her plans for individuals to harness the power of sun and wind in their own homes and businesses - and profit by selling extra power back to the the power companies.

The push for a greener Michigan goes farther, and plays into job creation. Granholm proposed the creation of a new sort of CCC, where thousands of Michiganders would weatherize government buildings, research new technologies, and install them across the state. Referring to the impressive decrease in the government's reliance on fossil fuels, Granholm joked, "If government can do this, you can too."

The film industry was another star player in Granholm's address and plans for the future. Wonderstruck Animation, she announced, will be building a new studio in Detroit. Stardock, a gaming company, will set up in Plymouth. Motown Motion Pictures is moving into an old GM factory in Pontiac, bringing 3,600 new jobs to the area. Granholm made a special mention of her hopes to employ more of the "young creative workers" of Michigan through this new entertainment industry. I think she's on to something.

Reform, reform, reform. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for reforming the government and Michigan a whole. It's just that, well, I'm sure that every credible journalist will write an article or four about Granholm's reforms in the next week. I'll save myself the time of writing what everyone else is likely to focus on.

Granholm finished up with five "urgent measures" that she proposed to the state, as a whole.
  • Freeze tuition hikes, for the next academic year. (Oh, Gawd, yes. Please!)
  • For the legislature to pass the Home Foreclosure Prevention Act, giving homeowners 90 days to secure financing rather than have their own front doors slammed in their faces.
  • For public utilities to end shut-offs for the remainder of the winter, in the cases of seniors, the disabled, and homes with low or no income.
  • Freeze hikes in auto insurance rates for one year, allowing the current insurance reform to be proposed and passed. And, if a company refuses, Granholm called on her administration to use any and every tool in their possession to combat those heartless money-grubbing executives.
  • For the continued support of health care for those who are most in need. Don't strip people of their health care in an attempt to reduce spending!

I was thrilled to hear about Granholm's renewable energy plans for individuals to get involved, and possibly profit, from new technologies. Also, I have high hopes for Wonderstruck Animation in Detroit. With so many friends at CCS, how could I not be geeked about the possibilities of my sister, the animation student, finding a job in Michigan? One last point Granholm focused on, which thrilled me, is the "Buy Michigan First" initiative. "Support Michigan. Select Michigan. Buy Michigan," she pleaded. The more attention this cause gets, the better off we'll all be.

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