Michigan economy needs the Colorado cure

    Note: This open letter to the people of Michigan, submitted to the Lansing State Journal today, answers a recent article there from the Devastation Prevarication propagandists I last did battle with in Maine - John Andrews

As a taxpayer advocate who was born in Michigan and held office in Colorado, I want my native state to have the kind of thriving economy that my adopted state has. The news that your state may pass SOS, the Stop OverSpending amendment, delights me even more than seeing the Tigers in first place.

The SOS plan to slow the runaway growth of government can help restore healthy growth to Michigan’s hurting economy. It worked for us in the Rockies; why not for you in the Great Lakes State as well? This onetime Allegan County guy objects to the distortion of our Colorado success story that was foisted on Lansing readers last month by big-government cheerleader Carol Hedges ( "Michigan, don’t make mistake Colorado did,” June 25).

The spending lobby, Hedges’ employer, understandably dislikes our state’s version of the SOS amendment, a constitutional provision called the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. But the amendment has been great for prosperity and quality of life in Colorado.

Back in 1992, my neighbors were fed up with a bloated budget and a lagging economy – which may sound familiar in Michigan today. So they petitioned to force change, just as your neighbors are doing Since then our amendment has paid dividends for job creation, family finances, leaner government, and lower taxes. I can see your SOS plan delivering all the same benefits.

Yet liberals resent the $3 billion in tax refunds paid out to hard-working Coloradans since the 1990s because of our amendment. They deplore the additional half-billion in tax cuts we passed when I was in the legislature. They miss the good old days of runaway spending; it’s grown at only the rate of inflation and population since 1992, after growing at twice that pace in the decade before.

During the 2001 recession it was weak revenues – not our constitutional spending limit, as Hedges falsely stated – that pinched highways and higher education. With revenues strong again, voters in 2005 used the flexibility of our amendment to approve faster increases through 2011 so those areas can catch up.

Has Hedges no compassion for Michigan’s economic plight, dead last in job growth and near the bottom in income growth? Someone should clue her in. As the Detroit News put it, “The state’s economy, crippled by faulty public policy, is driving out businesses and jobs.” Whereas my state, having gotten the public policy right, now ranks at or near the top in almost every index of economic vitality and business climate.

Want clinching proof of Colorado’s attractiveness with fiscal discipline in place? Consider our booming population growth since 1992. My grown children all live in Colorado; my Fennville cousins have all left Michigan. The Dr. Phil question comes to mind: “How’s that working for you?” SOS, the Stop OverSpending amendment, could start to turn things around for Michigan. Government insiders hope you don’t pass it. I hope you do.