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Michigan Growing Council: Pay people to move here

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(The Center Square) – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Growing Michigan Council might propose paying people to move to Michigan, tax credits and down payment assistance to stop population loss.

Michigan ranks 49th in the nation for population growth since 1990, and the state’s population has decreased since 2020. The council hasn’t said how it recommends paying for the proposals, which will require the state to “rethink how we govern and fund public services and programs…”

Rep. Mike Harris, R-Waterford, said the proposals would waste resources.

“Paying people to move to Michigan would be like slapping a Band-Aid on our state’s population decline,” Harris said in a statement “Families won’t suddenly change their minds and come to our state for a small reward. Unfortunately, the governor’s population council seems poised to recommend this and other extravagant new programs — paired with expensive new taxes that will make Michigan a more expensive place to live.”

The Council’s draft report suggests piloting first-time homebuyer programs, relocation, and alternative underwriting incentives to encourage new graduates to stay in Michigan.

The Council aims to boost population by 2050 – the same year a report estimated that another 270,000 people would leave the state.

“Instead, we should be focused on cost-effective tactics to address people’s underlying concerns that have led to our lagging population,” Harris said in a statement. “We should rebuild roads and bridges, bolster public safety, and boost education, and we must achieve these goals by strengthening standards, reinvesting our resources, and rejecting burdensome tax hikes on Michiganders.”

The Council follows Whitmer’s “Make it in Michigan” campaign, paired with a $5.6M ad campaign and a $20M marketing campaign to stop population loss.

Target markets for the national campaign include Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin and Ohio and 12 designated market areas across the U.S. including New York, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Austin and Raleigh-Durham.

Michigan’s infrastructure, ranging from road pavement quality to unreliable electricity causing frequent, long power outages, to outdated water infrastructure such as sanitary sewers, stormwater and flood control, is worse than the national average.

A Citizens Research Council of Michigan report said efforts to attract residents from other states are “stymied in part by poorly maintained infrastructure, which is generally worse than national averages and surrounding states.”

Michael LaFaive, Mackinac Center for Public Policy senior director of fiscal policy, said Michigan should rollback the income tax to 3.9% to attract residents.

“Rather than forcing all Michigan taxpayers to pay for homebuyer wishes and paying smart kids not to leave, why not just let people keep more of what they earn? Research showed that the 2007, 11.5% personal income tax hike chased about 4,700 citizens from the Great Lake State since it was imposed,” LaFaive said in a statement. “A rollback of our income tax to 3.9%, where it should be, would lead many more people to Michigan than the costly government programs being floated now.”

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