by W. Kim Heron
Here's something the Pew Center on the States does not say in its new report on troubled state economies:
Michigan, once a world technological leader, will settle slowly into the ooze. We will become Mississippi with ice storms, or maybe Haiti without sugar cane.
That was from a 2007 Politics and Prejudices column in Metro Times, one of a number columnist Jack Lessenberry has penned warning of the long-term consequences of Michigan's failure to confront its budget crisis. Recent weeks' columns have focused on the current mess in Lansing and the failure of Gov. Jennifer Granholm to lead in either the short or the longterm.
But the Pew Center study, Beyond California: States in Fiscal Peril, is no less devastating in its analysis. In fact, it emphasizes, not only how far Michigan can fall, but how far it has fallen already. Of all the states of the union, only Michigan was still struggling to emerge from the recession of 2001 when the latest one arrived.
A passage from the report:
Michigan is still the eighth-most populous state — but it has yet to come to terms with no longer being one of the most prosperous, said Donald Grimes, a senior research specialist at the University of Michigan and an expert on the Michigan economy. Michigan ranked 37th for per-capita income, with peers that include Georgia (38th) and Montana (39th).
"The state of Michigan will have to learn all the things that being a poor state means," Grimes said. When the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis releases finalized 2009 data, Grimes said, he expects Michigan to be among the 10 poorest states.
Two more daunting passages:
Economic forecasters for Moody's Economy.com said they do not expect Michigan to see another peak in its business cycle during their entire 30-year forecasting horizon.
Even if the state were to immediately begin growing at the rapid rate of the 1990s, it would be 2025 or 2030 before it replaced all the jobs it lost this decade.
Read the rest at www.pewcenteronthestates.org. Then scream.
That Michigan is lumped with likewise fiscally challenged states is little solace. In addition to California, the others are: a cluster of California's neighbors (Arizona, Nevada and Oregon), one more Sun Belt state (Florida), two of Michigan's neighbors (Illinois and Wisconsin) and a Northeastern cluster (New Jersey and Rhode Island).
The score card — which included such factors as state revenue declines, budget gaps, unemployment and foreclosures — put a number of states close behind the 10 worst cases. Those included Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, New York and Hawaii.
And, underscoring the nationwide troubles, the report said that only Montana and North Dakota avoided budget shortfalls in fiscal 2010.