Officials address state’s future

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and Gov. Jennifer Granholm discussed the future of Oakland County and Michigan as a whole, respectively, last Wednesday.

Patterson focused his State of Oakland County address on his plans for 2010 rather than problems of 2009.

“Tonight I had two options,” Patterson said. “I could have dwelled on the challenges of our economy, but we all know those too well. Or I could leave you with a positive message that we have a great team here in Oakland County — including my staff; the other countywide elected officials with whom I am privileged to serve; our legislative body, the Oakland County Board of Commissioners; and our outstanding courts and judges — they are all managing through these tough budget years in a manner which I hope makes you proud.”

Much of Patterson’s speech focused on the work his Budget Task Force plans to carry out this year. Specifically, the task force developed a new three year budget, is helping prevent foreclosures through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program and helping families purchase homes through the Homebuyer program.

“As we continue to move forward with both programs, the goal will be to reduce blight caused by abandoned homes and to stabilize property values by getting qualified families into these homes,” Patterson said. “These programs work because they allow the private market to work.”

Other developments in Oakland County that Patterson highlighted included the accreditation approval for Oakland University’s William Beaumont School of Medicine, which he said will likely create 1,000 jobs, and the progress made by alternative energy groups, such as Xtreme Power and Clairvoyant.

“I can’t emphasize the significance of this medical school,” Patterson said. “The possibility of a multibillion dollar shot in the arm will go a long way toward restoring our challenged economy.”

During her final State of the State Address, Gov. Granholm stressed a need for smart investments in order for the state economy to begin to recuperate.

She put an emphasis on the Pure Michigan tourism advertising campaign, investing in education and improve transportation systems. 

“The federal government will give us $2 billion over the next four years if we can come up with a 20 percent match in state funds,” Granholm said. “Without the match, we lose the federal funds, and 10,000 jobs each year going forward.” 

Her revised budget, if passed, will reinstate the Michigan Promise Scholarship.

“My budget for the year ahead will restore the Michigan Promise Scholarship, identify a creative way to pay for it, and give it a new focus — keeping our young people in Michigan when they ear their degrees,” Granholm said.

Granholm mentioned efforts to make Saginaw the next Silicon Valley as far as solar panel manufacturing companies go and Macomb County’s budding defense industry. New industries are key to her idea of “New Michigan.”

“Job providers are the critical architects and builders of the new Michigan,” Granholm said. “When they come to us with reasonable proposals about ways to make them grow, we must listen.”