Alliance Issues Statement On Whitmer Budget Vetoes

The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance released the following statement on the State of Michigan’s Fiscal Year 2019-2020 budget which included 147 vetoes from Governor Whitmer.

Our organization is here to serve the interests of our region, and we are very concerned about the status of the FY 2019-20 budget with the Governor’s vetoes.  

The current budget harms our Four Pillars for Rural Prosperity agenda in many ways:

  1. Rural Business Development
  • Restore Pure Michigan funding to FY 2018-19 levels – the efforts of the tourism industry are vital to the economy across northern Michigan.
  • Restore funding for Going Pro training program – this program has proved highly effective for training much needed talent in rural areas.
  • Business Attraction and Community Development funds – these serve as the core business attraction and development funding used by rural communities.
  1. Attracting Talent to Rural Areas
  • Fully restore funding for rural healthcare – rural healthcare professionals and facilities face enough challenges already, and this would be a further blow to the health and welfare of northern Michigan families.
  • Restore funding for northern Michigan schools – whether it’s critical funding for small and isolated schools, or new programs to assist with non-traditional learners, a cutting edge rural education system is paramount for educating the next generation of leaders for our region, and for attracting working-age families. 

These priorities are serious issues for northern Michigan, and we are disappointed to see them used as bargaining chips for budget negotiations.

We urge our legislative leaders to go back to the drawing board to find an agreement that will fund these critical rural programs – all of which were included in either the FY 2019-20 Executive Budget proposal, and the legislative budgets passed at the end of September.”

Questions can be directed to Kent Wood, Director of Government Relations at

Budget Includes Alliance STEM Requests

In the spring we discovered that grant funding for robotics teams has been pulled from the Michigan House version of the School Aid Budget and issued a call to action.

Our ask was to support the Senate version of Section 99h of the School Aid budget. WE SUCCEDED!

On September 24, 2019, the Michigan House and Senate passed a budget compromise that included language and funding for a number of competitive robotics programs used throughout northern Michigan.

Last year, Chambers were successful in seeking changes to Section 99h of the 2018-2019 School Aid Fund budget allowed for both FIRST and VEX competitive robotics programs to be eligible for state robotics grants. In addition, legislators boosted the eligible statewide grant pool to $4 million for both VEX and FIRST Robotics programs.

These small but significant changes led to explosive growth in both the number of new teams and competitions in over 450 school districts around the state.  That meant: more districts, more students, more excitement, and more STEM.

What’s even more exciting is that nearly half of that growth came from students and school districts in northern Michigan.

Some of the rough growth numbers from last year’s budget:

  • Approximately 120 new VEX teams across Michigan (45% increase),
  • 700 new students participating across the state,
  • 50% increase in number of VEX teams in northern Michigan, especially in rural school districts,
  • Nearly 15% growth in the number of VEX competitions, which means more opportunities for students to compete and hone their new skills,
  • Significant grant increase for FIRST Robotics, which continues to grow statewide, including hosting the FIRST Robotics National Championship in Detroit in 2019.

This is another budget win for northern Michigan. Thanks are in order for Senator Wayne Schmidt and Representative Aaron Miller – both chairs of the School Aid budget – for their work on finding a compromise on the language and funding to keep STEM activities moving forward in northern Michigan.

Alliance Pushes Rural Policy In Lansing Lobby Day

2019 Lobby Day Capitol group
The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance at its 2019 Lobby Day in Lansing.

More policy with a rural focus.

That was the key message to legislators from partners of the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance who made the trip to Lansing for the Alliance’s annual Lobby Day in Lansing.

The Alliance peppered legislative offices with their Four Pillars of Rural Prosperity legislative agenda.

2019 Lobby Day McBroom
Partners of the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance meet with State Senator Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) at his office in Lansing.

In recent weeks, the Alliance has also been successful in starting the process to get legislation drafted for its following priorities:

  • Creating a tiered structure for some business and development incentives that allow small businesses and communities to compete with similar-sized businesses/communities.
  • Rural Research & Development tax credit.
  • Rural relocation tax credit.
  • Rural internship/apprenticeship tax credit.
  • Payment-in-lieu-of-taxes program for rural local governments and developers seeking to create workforce housing in rural areas.
  • An incentive for rural employers who offset employee housing costs.

Major Talking Points

You can help us by sharing these key points with legislators and community leaders:

  • We are seeking to create more tools to help rural communities and businesses thrive.
  • Rural counties across the state are still in decline.
  • One of the major causes of economic decline is the fact that rural counties are still losing population in key workforce age demographics.
  • We want Michigan to be a national leader in targeting rural economic growth and stability.
  • Many of the programs and incentives the state uses to target and grow major business are not well suited for rural communities and businesses.
  • We are hoping to use the natural rural majority in the legislature to target legislation and policy that grows sustainable and high paying wages in rural Michigan.

The Chamber Alliance is looking forward to sharing further updates in the future as legislation is drafted and introduced and committee hearings are set.


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