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Putting Michigan First at the Mackinac Policy Conference

The 2019 Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference brought together leaders from business, politics and policy, education, energy, philanthropy, and more to discuss the major issues facing Michigan and how we can best come together as a state to support and advance efforts to address these issues.

A recent “Michigan Matters” roundtable on CBS 62 in Detroit highlighted some of the most pressing issues to arise out of the conference.

Infrastructure Improvements

Many participants at the Mackinac Policy Conference put fixing our roads and improving infrastructure statewide as their most pressing policy concern.

With Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) providing the opening remarks for the conference, her campaign promise to “fix the damn roads” became a central theme and rallying cry for many leaders in attendance, including M-DOT Director Paul Ajebgba, who highlighted the need to fix our crumbling roads and infrastructure.

AMP believes that any discussion about this issue is incomplete unless it includes improving, upgrading, and enhancing our entire infrastructure, including our energy infrastructure.

How Does Energy Play a Role in MI’s Infrastructure?

Transforming our energy system is fundamental to ensure energy remains reliable, affordable, and sustainable—and keep Michigan in control of its energy future. The process of transformation is complex and involves many small and large changes that will add up to a new way of thinking about energy for everyone in Michigan.

Ensuring our transformation is strategic and successful will require all of us—consumers, energy providers, and policymakers—to work together.

Education

During an in-depth roundtable reflecting on the Mackinac Policy Conference, the issue of how to improve education in Michigan became a central topic of discussion, just as it was at the conference.

Rick DeVore, PNC’s regional president for Detroit and Southeastern Michigan, stressed the importance of getting everyone on board—from philanthropy to business to unions to teachers to parents—in order to affect positive change from within. He highlighted new programs and grants PNC is supporting along with The Kresge Foundation and W.K. Kellogg Foundation, “which will provide $2.5 million in joint grants to support improvements in early childhood education facilities in Detroit neighborhoods.”

During the roundtable discussion, Tonya Allen, President & CEO of the Skillman Foundation also discussed funding for education and teachers across the state. AMP fully supports these efforts to improve education, and continues to highlight the important investments Michigan’s energy providers make to local school districts statewide—including through state and local tax revenue as well as critical energy efficiency programs that help schools save millions of dollars annually.

How Does Energy Play a Role in Education?

Michigan’s in-state energy providers are among the largest taxpayers in the state and the taxes they pay directly benefit local schools from Detroit to the Upper Peninsula. Some quick numbers below about how local energy providers are funding MI schools

  • $252 million in 2015
  • $1.2 billion over the next decade

2020 Census

The stakes are huge for Michigan when it comes to the 2020 census. As DTE Energy Vice President of Public Affairs Nancy Moody points out, it is vital that every person in Michigan is counted in the next census because “every person is worth about $18,000 in federal funding.”

These funds are vital in helping Michigan tackle the issues we face, including education, health care, early childhood development, senior care, and more. Essentially, ensuring next year’s census goes off without a hitch and fully counts every Michigander is essential to addressing the wide range of issues policymakers, business leaders, and philanthropic groups have identified as major concerns for our state.

The bottom line coming out of the Mackinac Policy Conference is that we are all in this together—and together, we can help build a stronger future for all Michiganders.