State of the state

Published 3:48 am Wednesday, January 28, 2004

By Staff
LANSING -- Michigan Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm outlined her seven-point plan to grow Michigan's economy and create new jobs for Michigan workers in her second State of the State Address before a joint session of the Michigan Legislature on Tuesday evening.
Granholm said that in the coming year, her administration will focus on retaining manufacturers while also attracting new businesses to the state, developing a 21st century workforce, creating cool cities, ensuring quality educational opportunities, making health care more accessible and affordable, and protecting Michigan natural resources.
In addition to growing the economy and improving our quality of life, the Governor also addressed the need to protect our citizens and their hard-earned dollars.
Two key initiatives announced by Governor Granholm tonight to provide affordable health care options to Michigan citizens are the new Michigan Prescription Discount Card, or MI-RX, and the Third Share Partnership for health care benefits. The MI-RX Card will allow as many as 200,000 senior citizens and working people without insurance to cut the cost of their prescription drugs by as much as 20 percent.
The Third Share Partnership, modeled after successful programs in Muskegon and Wayne counties, will help small businesses offer health insurance to workers by dividing the cost of the health care premium between the employee, the employer and the state, with the state's third share coming in the form of a tax credit to the business.
To help businesses grow, Granholm called on the federal government to pursue international trade policies that level the playing field for Michigan and U.S. businesses. In addition, she announced two initiatives to streamline permitting processes in Michigan.
Granholm also announced three new venture capital funds to attract and grow businesses in Michigan. The Emerging Business Fund, the Venture Michigan Fund, and the Small Business Growth Fund will leverage federal and private dollars to make more than half a billion dollars available for starting a new 21st century business.
The Governor's address, entitled "Our Determination, Our Destination: A 21st Century Economy," also included initiatives to aid Michigan's manufacturing sector, provide interest-free loans to engineering and technology students, curb the use of credit scoring and end predatory lending practices, and stiffen legal penalties for those who prey on our seniors and vulnerable citizens.