How Tax Reform Fueled Michigan's Resurgence

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America’s economy is finally growing after years of struggle, but the current recovery still has a long way to go.  We need a new plan that accelerates our economic growth, spreads that success to more families and creates a stronger environment for people to get back into the workforce. The Republican tax reform plan now working its way through Congress is the best way forward for American workers.   

Tax reform is one of the few government policies that can have a clear and direct result on the bottom line for many American families.  When tax reform is done right, job seekers find new opportunities, workers see higher take-home pay, and families trying to make ends meet have a little more cushion at the end of every month.   

You can see a great example of tax reform done right in my home state of Michigan.  Just a few short years ago, we were the first state into the recession.  Our unemployment rate quickly rose to the worst in the nation, and businesses in every community shut their doors for good.  Michigan hit such hard times we were the only state to lose population during the last census, as an entire generation left to look for greener pastures. Our failures were numerous, and they were severe.  We lost an entire decade to economic malaise. 

But now Michigan is the model comeback state. We are No. 1 in manufacturing job growth, our unemployment rate has fallen by more than 75 percent, and our personal income growth is among the best in the nation.  We are in the midst of an incredible turnaround, as Michigan has gone from absolute last place to become one of the fastest growing states in the country. 

Our comeback was built on a commitment to tax reform. A new wave of state leaders overhauled the business tax code, gave families long-overdue tax relief and lowered outdated and outsized property taxes.  These changes have been controversial and difficult at times, but they were the right thing to do to save our economy and give working people a leg up.  We made it easier to create a job, and we made it pay off even more for families to keep a job. 

Those changes have worked for Michigan. Small-business owners have been able to expand and bring on new employees. Larger businesses stopped pulling up roots and instead began expanding here at home.  And more than 500,000 new jobs have been created with bigger paychecks and more options for job seekers. 

Making common-sense changes to our harmful and outdated tax rates can provide a real, proven stimulus to our economy. Ten million Michiganders have seen the proof.  It is well past time the rest of the country saw it too. 

Tax reform will help small businesses, the real economic drivers in our country, hire new people and expand. It will help workers living paycheck-to-paycheck make ends meet. And it will help families who have been forced to pinch pennies spend a little more in their local communities to provide for their children and invest for the future.   

The people I represent have seen incredible economic job growth and greater prosperity. But there is no such thing as good enough. I want to see even more people take part in our recovery, and I want everyone else around the country to experience the economic revival we have been so fortunate to see here in Michigan.  Tax reform is the best, fastest way to make that happen.

Tom Leonard is the speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives and represents the state's 93rd District.

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