DECISION 2006: For Governor
DeVos has right plan for fixing Michigan
Challenger will bring leadership skills Granholm lacks
We don't fault Gov. Jennifer Granholm for the collapse of the domestic auto industry or for the resulting avalanche that continues to decimate Michigan's economic base.
No matter who was sitting in the governor's office the past four years, the forces roiling Michigan's bread-and-butter industry could not have been turned back nor their impact on the state muted. The challenges the governor has faced have been immense, and we have often sympathized with the enormity of the task she faced.
But in measuring her performance in leading Michigan through this crisis, we find her lacking. She was too slow to implement policies to change the state's economic future, too ineffective in dealing with the Legislature to push through urgent legislation and too uninspiring in rallying citizens to the extreme challenges of transforming the state's economy and breaking its culture of entitlement.
Michigan needs bold ideas and the courage to implement them. It also needs a new attitude, one that encourages entrepreneurship and innovation. Granholm has provided none of that. The image of Michigan remains one of a state controlled by Big Labor, committed to expensive liberal social policies and locked to a 20th-century economic model. Granholm must shoulder a good share of the blame.
The promises she is making on the campaign trail this year sound inspiring and create the impression of a leader willing to charge into the New Economy. But we can't forget that they are the same ones she made four years ago, and most have gone unfulfilled.
Her allegiance to labor unions has kept her from making the structural reforms Michigan needs in its education system, regulatory environment and tax policy. Her partisanship and political missteps have left her with little leverage over a Legislature controlled by the other party.
And her propensity for blaming everyone but herself for Michigan's condition has contributed to a statewide sense of helplessness. At some point, a leader stops blaming the inevitable and starts attacking the problem.
Michigan needs change. Until Thursday, we could not say with great enthusiasm that Republican Dick DeVos was the right change for Michigan.
DeVos delivers passion
But when he took the podium at the Detroit Economic Club in a joint appearance with Granholm, DeVos delivered what we've been waiting for -- passion and a specific, bold plan for reviving Michigan. He is no longer the lesser of two evils. He is the right alternative.
DeVos understands that Michigan must send a strong signal to the rest of the world that it has changed the way it does business. To do that, he would scrap both the Single Business Tax and the personal property tax on business equipment, which in many ways is a more harmful tax than the SBT because it discourages capital investment.
DeVos would replace the two with a broader business tax, most likely on profits. But before committing to a dollar-for-dollar replacement, he would streamline government operations, make cost-saving changes in the benefit packages of teachers and other public employees, and finally rid the state budget of waste and inefficiency.
He promises to take personal control of economic development efforts, rather than entrust that vital task to bureaucrats.
That's the way a business executive approaches a turnaround situation.
DeVos also promises greater investments in education, decreased college costs, Michigan investment offices in Asia and other regions of the world, more spent to promote tourism and reform of the human services and parole agencies, where mismanagement has led to tragedy.
And he vowed to fully join the effort to revive Detroit, a city that suffers from neglect by the state.
DeVos can no longer be accused of not having a plan for fixing Michigan. He's got one, and it's solid.
But more important, he has the executive skills to implement the plan, the independence to shirk off the special interests that are holding Michigan back and the focus to make the vision reality.
We endorse Dick DeVos for governor.