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As we approach the November elections, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Virg Bernero has three promises to make to Michigan residents. First, Bernero vows to make Michigan a more attractive place to do business. “We’re going to lay out the red carpet instead of the red tape for business,” says Bernero, adding, “We’re going to put Michigan back to work.”
Bernero points to his experience as Lansing Mayor as evidence that he knows what it takes to create jobs. He says, “My city has the second-lowest unemployment rate in the state by region. We’re getting results here. We’ve got half a-billion dollars in new investment, 6,000 new jobs. We’ve reduced bureaucracy by twenty percent. You know, I’ve had to cut my budgets. I’ve had to make tough decisions here in Lansing.”
As to how he’ll be able to expand his ideas from the city to the state level, Bernero says he’ll apply much of what he’s learned as mayor to his job as governor. He explains, “We’re going to have to do more with less in state government. We’re going to have to be very creative, very inventive in terms of economic development at the state level.”
Bernero also stresses the importance of transparency in government, saying, “We have to measure everything we’re doing. In Lansing, I’ve implemented a program called Lansing Stat. For the state I’ll call it MI Stat, where we’re going to put everything online. We’re going to have complete transparency. We’re going to measure outcomes for what state government does so that we get more bang for the buck.”
Mr. Bernero’s second promise to Michigan is that he will build, grow, and buy Michigan. “In Lansing,” says Bernero, “we have this policy that we buy Lansing first. If we can get the product or service in Lansing then that’s what we do. And so we’re going to do that in the state of Michigan.” Bernero says that the state will only look to hire contractors from outside the state if none can be found in Michigan.
“We need to invest in ourselves,” says Bernero, adding, “We’ve got a billion dollars invested in J.P. Morgan Chase that’s not doing a thing for us. That’s taxpayer dollars. It’s sitting there.” Bernero plans to take that billion dollars and place it in Michigan community banks and credit unions in order to provide small businesses with access to capital.
Bernero’s third promise to Michigan is to focus on education. He says, “Education is economic development,” adding, “The next big thing is sitting in the mind of child in a classroom somewhere in Michigan.” In order for that next big thing to become a reality in Michigan, Bernero says, “We need to make sure that every child has a great, quality public education no matter where they are in Michigan.”
Regarding why he chose to make the promises he did, Bernero credits his wife, a long-time educator, with helping him understand the importance of education. As to the economic promises, Bernero says, “I’ve learned the hard way: as a mayor on the front lines.”
Bernero says, “Investing in yourself, buying Michigan, investing Michigan, growing the economy, and then investing in education – I think those all go together. And if we do those three things and do them well, then I believe that Michigan will be on the path to health and prosperity. I really do.”
- By Eliot Johnson