Nov 8, 2023 - News

Population council nears deadline to provide ideas

U of M president Santa Ono, DTE senior vice president JoAnn Chávez and researcher Richard Florida speak from Zoom during last week's Growing Michigan Together Council meeting in Lansing. Courtesy: Zoom screenshot

Concrete proposals are still being finalized by the Growing Michigan Together Council, the bipartisan group tasked by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to come up with solutions to retain young talent.

Why it matters: Problems caused by the state's stagnant population are becoming clear, and there's pressure — and skepticism — from Republicans and Democrats on the state's effort to reverse the decades-long trend.

The latest: During the council's three-hour meeting in Lansing last week, presentations by researcher Richard Florida, the Citizens Research Council and Lou Glazer of Michigan Future outlined what we already know: Talented college graduates are leaving faster than ever.

  • Four work groups made up of dozens of people separate from the council are focused on developing preliminary recommendations for K-12 education, college, infrastructure, jobs and talent.
  • Last month, the council released preliminary recommendations based on ideas generated from feedback collected in the work groups.

Between the lines: Michigan's chief growth officer Hilary Doe tells Axios the report and recommendations could miss a Dec. 1 deadline since the council "has requested a little bit of flexibility there," but expects proposals to be announced in the coming weeks.

K-12 education: Doe says experts want more apprenticeships, internships and other applicable work experience as part of the educational system. The council writes that in order to meet the needs of future students, Michigan must "design a new kind of formula to fund a next generation of schools." Recommendations include:

  • Incorporating more student-centered measures of performance, like student well-being.
  • Reconsideration of how the state superintendent is selected.

Higher education: The council has proposed creating a K–14 public education system by providing graduating high school students seeking postsecondary education with two years, or 60 credits, of tuition at colleges across the state.

  • They also want to incentivize common-course numbering of all undergraduate courses to make equivalent courses offered throughout Michigan colleges and universities.

Jobs and talent: The most common reason postgraduates leave the state is a lack of job opportunities, the council wrote in its preliminary report. Recommendations include:

  • Boosting resources provided to entrepreneurs in high-growth sectors.
  • Expanding efforts to create inclusive places to attract and retain immigrants and diverse populations.
  • Offering targeted incentives such as providing first-time homebuyer, relocation and alternative underwriting incentives to encourage new graduates.

What we're watching: There haven't been any details outlining how any of the proposals would be paid for.

  • Council leaders in a closed-door meeting this year addressed concerns of a tax hike in order to pay for the recommendations, the Detroit News reported.

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