(The Center Square) – As state spending will reach a record $82 billion, a Michigan lawmaker wants to create a new government agency.
Sen. Sam Singh, D-East Lansing, introduced Senate Bill 519 to create a new government agency to help people who lose their jobs as Michigan transitions from fossil fuels to clean energy.
In September, Singh said: “I think we’re always concerned whenever you’re making a transition that you should have a system in place that makes sure that we are protecting workers,” he said. “Whether it’s the immediate transitions about helping them with supports that are necessary. If it’s long-term, if we know that something’s going to happen in five years, how do we help the employees get the skills sets so they transition to a different part of the industry.”
The bill seeks to create the Community and Worker Economic Transition Office within the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity to help workers and communities displaced in the auto, construction and energy sectors during the renewable energy transition.
It would submit a transition plan to the governor and legislature Dec. 31, 2025.
John Mozena, president of the Center for Economic Accountability, a nonprofit organization for transparent economic development policy, said “Governments are terrible at planning and managing an economy…”
“Fundamentally, this legislation has the same fatal flaw as so many other big ideas coming out of Lansing, which is that it assumes that government plans, you know, work,” Mozena wrote in an email. “They’re going to create a ‘community and worker economic transition plan.’ They’re going to align local state and federal plans. What they’re not preparing for is what happens when the plans don’t match up with reality, which is what always happens to some degree or another.”
The plan must be submitted by the end of 2025.
“Any government plan that takes more than two years to develop is going to be so complicated and politicized that it’s almost certainly going to be irrelevant the instant it’s complete,” Mozena said.
“We spent the past century learning the hard way that governments are terrible at planning and managing an economy, but apparently some of Michigan’s legislators have yet to learn that simple lesson,” Mozena continued. “Economies, even at the state level, are such incredibly complex things that they defy any true understanding.”
Sen. Thomas Albert, R-Lowell, in the previous bill hearing, questioned if bill acknowledged that Michigan is killing jobs via the energy transition.
“Is this bill an acknowledgment that the policies that we’ve been adopting as a state are killing jobs in the state of Michigan?” he said.
If enacted, this would be at least the fifth new government agency created since Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was elected in 2019.
That includes the Officer of Future Mobility and Electrification, Michigan’s High-Speed Internet Office, the Office of Rural Development, and the Michigan Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement, and Potential.
The Committee on Labor voted the bill to the Committee of the Whole. It’s unclear how much this new agency would cost taxpayers. The nonpartisan Senate Fiscal Agency said the bill would increase costs to LEO, including additional full-time-equivalent employees and information technology costs.