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Opinions all around at Community Conversation


Amber DeLind of The Center for Michigan leads the group at the April 4 Community Conversation at the Howell Area Chamber of Commerce.

PreK-12 education, Michigan’s natural resources and environment, college affordability and infrastructure investments were top priorities of participants at the Center for Michigan Community Conversation at the Howell chamber on Friday, April 4.

The conversation by the Center for Michigan — a nonprofit, nonpartisan think-and-do tank that strives to be the state’s “Citizenship Company” — brought together a group of 18 people representing a range of backgrounds and interests to talk about their priorities for the state. This conversation was one of the series the Center for Michigan is holding to identify the priorities of Michigan’s citizens and then amplify them in all campaigns and then in the state capitol after the election.

“It was a great event,” said Pat Convery, president of the Howell Area Chamber of Commerce. “The diverse group of participants shared a wide variety of opinions about Michigan. It was both enlightening and stimulating.”

Part of the conversation included a series of questions about Michigan, as well as its spending priorities.

Over half of the participants — 53 percent — said Michigan’s future is good or great, while 47 percent feel pessimistic, fearing a long, hard struggle for years to come.

Identified as “urgent” priorities by participants were improving PreK-12 student performance (82 percent); protecting Michigan’s environment (82 percent); investing in roads, bridges and infrastructure (78 percent); improving college affordability (78 percent); revitalizing Michigan’s cities (76 percent); investing in public transit (61 percent); increasing college completion rates (61 percent);  intensifying education and job training (59 percent); decreasing poverty (59 percent); streamlining business regulation (47 percent); and investing in placemaking (41 percent).

When asked about what tax advice they’d give to state leaders going forward, participants advised raising taxes and investing the revenues in improved public services (47 percent), compared to cutting taxes and return the savings to taxpayers (41 percent). Twelve percent of the participants said they’d advise leaders to keep tax revenues and current government spending about the same.

The full report of all Community Conversations held during the current series will be presented to the Legislature and the community this spring.

According to The Center, more than 20,000 Michigan residents have participated in Community Conversations since they began in 2007. Reports from previous Community Conversations provided public momentum for state leaders to:

• Approve the nation’s largest expansion of public preschool.

• Approve deeper state investment in the “Pure Michigan” marketing campaign.

• Reform state business taxes.

• Institute reforms to save taxpayers $250 million in state prison costs.

For more information on The Center for Michigan, call 734.769.4625, or click here.

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