Whitmer names commission to set population target
Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order Thursday creating a bipartisan commission to look for ways to attract more people to Michigan. She made the announcement at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Policy Conference on Mackinac Island.
“We all know that where someone chooses to make their lives is the most important vote of confidence,” she said. “This is a real, earnest plan to get the politics out because the work is not going to be done in three and a half years when I leave office and a new person takes the oath. But the work’s got to start now in earnest and that’s what we’re undertaking with this council.”
Whitmer announced that former U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates John Rakolta and former New Detroit CEO Shirley Stancato will lead the commission. Rakolta is a Republican who was a top fundraiser for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaigns. Stancato is a Democrat who serves on the Wayne State University Board of Governors.
Whitmer also announced Hilary Doe will serve as the state’s Chief Growth Officer. The position will be housed in the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
The stakes for Michigan include workforce development, congressional representation and eligibility for population-based federal financial aid.
Legislative Republicans said the effort isn’t truly bipartisan. The Legislature’s GOP leaders say they’ll get only two direct appointments to the commission’s 21 voting members. They also said the governor’s stated mission for the commission sets the stage for a tax increase.
“It’s not just funding,” said House Minority Leader Matt Hall (R-Marshall). “It’s also looking at accountability in education. It’s not just tax increases for roads. It’s also looking at regulatory reform, permitting reforms, other things we can do to make our state more competitive other than just raising taxes.”
The commission is supposed to set a population goal for 2050 with plans on how to hit that target. The executive order also says the commission will issue a report including its recommendations to attract and retain population within six months.