A plan to foster innovation amidst bankruptcy
The old Argonaut Building has a big place in Detroit’s history. From 1936 to 1956, it was the home of the General Motors Research Laboratory, the first in-house research & design studio in the automotive industry.
When he visits a battery plant in Holland, Michigan, today, President Obama will talk about the connection between innovation, advanced manufacturing, and economic growth. But he has an opportunity to make an even more important connection: between government action and innovation At a time when the federal government seems unable to manage anything well, and state governments are still grappling with budget shortfalls and crippling layoffs, it is easy to forget that the public sector is a critical driver of innovation, particularly in the energy sector. As James Duderstadt, Mark Muro, and oth
Mike Alberti at Remapping Debate has a really good piece up about how local government consolidation is a political orphan. The people who are against it care much more about blocking it than the people who support it care about implementing it. The news hook for the piece is that New Jersey’s governor has eliminated the funding for the state’s standing commission to study and promote local government consolidation in last year’s budget and this year’s as well. The commission cost about a million a year, and cutting it is a penny-wise but pound-foolish move.
What are states good for? The 19th century answer was that states are a critical counterweight to federal power. The 20th century answer was that states are laboratories of democracy--tinkering with the beta versions of laws and policies before other states or the federal government adopted them on a large scale. The 21st century answer is that states are the enablers and supporters of metropolitan economies. One problem: States don’t really think this way. According to law, all the component elements of metros--cities, counties, townships, villages, etc.--are creatures of the state.
“We cannot win the future with a government of the past,” President Obama said last week, before promising a proposal to “merge, consolidate, and reorganize the federal government in a way that best serves the goal of a more competitive America.” He can learn something from Michigan’s Rick Snyder, the Republican governor who is retooling Michigan’s government, or significant parts of it, so that it is clearly in the service of the state’s metropolitan areas, its economic engines. In his state of the state speech, Snyder pledged to make the state’s regions the drivers of state economic developm
State of the state speeches usually have the feel of New Year’s resolutions. This year, say the governors, the state will be richer, smarter, better, happier thanks to new programs, new rules, and new ideas.
States are cutting their budgets like mad in an effort to close deficits that often pass the billion dollar mark. Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal provides a grim catalog of state spending cuts: Most states have either hiked fees or chopped services for the disabled and the elderly.
The 21 largest metropolitan areas of the hard-hit Great Lakes region added more than 94,000 jobs in the second quarter of 2010--the largest one-quarter employment increase these places have seen in more than a decade. What’s even more surprising? The manufacturing sector accounted for more than a quarter of these job gains. But despite these momentous one-quarter gains, the condition of the Great Lakes region’s major metropolitan areas nearly three years after the beginning of the Great Recession remains similar to that of the U.S.
How much are Ohio’s state leaders willing to sacrifice to be nice? The state’s commission on local government reform and collaboration is obligated to release a report today that will recommend eminently reasonable steps the state could take to nudge Ohio’s 3,800 local governments (including 250 cities, 695 villages, and 1,308 townships) along the path of greater collaboration and cost-saving shared services.