Reforming business taxes, streamlining regulations, reducing health care costs and developing a productive workforce to improve the manufacturing climate in Michigan were among the main priorities outlined in the 2007 Michigan Manufacturing Agenda released Friday by the Michigan Manufacturers Association (MMA).
Other topics on the MMA Agenda included protecting Michigan's tort reforms that were implemented in the 1990s, and encouraging economic development and trade.
According to John MacIlroy, MMA president and CEO, outdated and unfair public policies are preventing manufacturers from competing, growing and providing jobs in Michigan. He said that the MMA Agenda is asking lawmakers to focus on legislative changes or to adopt policies that will have an immediate, positive effect on manufacturing in Michigan.
"First on our list is quick passage of a fair, broad-based business tax," said MacIlroy. "And we need to eliminate the onerous personal property tax, which is a disincentive to investing in new equipment – something manufacturers must do regularly to remain competitive."
In Michigan, manufacturers make up only 10.1 percent of the Single Business Tax (SBT) payers, yet pay 34.1 percent of the tax, while more than 44 percent of businesses pay no SBT, according to data from the Michigan Department of Treasury.
As a new business tax system is developed to replace the SBT, manufacturers believe that all businesses should pay some tax since all businesses benefit from state and local government services, said the MMA.
When it comes to regulations, the MMA stated that they will continue to oppose attempts to impose state-based, mandatory ergonomic standards that are more burdensome than the federal requirements.
Chuck Hadden, MMA vice president of government affairs, said that ergonomics is not a "black and white issue" and what works for one employee in one company would not necessarily work for another employee at another company, and therfore a mandatory state ergonomic standard would be burdensome and costly for manufacturers.
The MMA is also looking to protect the tort reforms approved by Michigan in the mid-1990s, including those that protect pharmaceutical manufacturers if their products have received U.S. FDA approval, because the exhaustive FDA approval process adequately protects consumers.
Due to spiraling health care costs that are hindering the competitiveness of Michigan companies, the MMA said they are in opposition to any new health care mandates, such as mental health coverage, that could cause costs to increase even further.
As a way to high health care costs, the MMA said it supports consumer-driven health care systems and a strong Certificate of Need process – where hospitals must justify the purchase of expensive, specialized equipment before purchase.
To encourage economic growth, MMA members are asking lawmakers to implement policies that will address Michigan's long-term energy needs, aimed at ensuring the lowest cost, most reliable power. They are also calling for the stopping the flow of counterfeit goods.
To address another priority, the development of a productive workforce, Hadden said that Michigan manufacturers support an increase in charter public schools to give families better educational choices.
This spring, the MMA will begin a new program, "Makin' It In Michigan," that will increase the educational opportunities for students seeking careers in Michigan's advanced manufacturing industry. The program will include in-school presentations by manufacturers, facility tours across the state and a manufacturing careers Web portal.
To view the entire Agenda, please click here.