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Guest column - A year filled with reform

December 28, 2011 - By State Rep. Brad Jacobsen

It seems like only yesterday that I was sworn into office as 46th District State Representative, but looking at the calendar I discover that it really has been a year. And what a year! This Legislature has worked at an unprecedented pace to restructure and reform our state, all with the goal of creating jobs, balancing our budget and paying down our debt. The reforms have followed many paths. For the first time in memory, the state budget was passed months prior to the October 1 deadline. This budget was based on real dollars and cents and not dreams and wishful thinking. I look forward to continuing this work during the new year.

Creating jobs and reforming business regulations is, and continues to be, a priority and our efforts have shown that. The time was long overdue to address our struggling economy and try to find solutions to help Michigan families in the long run. Failed solutions are a thing of the past and the status quo is no more in Lansing. I remain committed to reforms that reduce spending and minimize regulations and will make Michigan a competitive place to do business.

One of the biggest issues tackled in 2011 was overhauling our outdated, overwritten and obsolete tax code. The Michigan Business Tax and its surcharge made the cost of doing business in Michigan prohibitive for too many companies. It was cumbersome and confusing. As a small-business owner, I dealt with the double taxation and high taxes that made it tough to do business here. I'm pleased we have now implemented a simpler, more predictable tax code that eliminates double taxation and encourages businesses to set up shop and expand in Michigan. With this new tax code, which goes into effect next month, we are truly showing the world that Michigan is open for business.

Reckless spending and budgetary band-aids are a thing of the past in Lansing. This year, we cut spending by more than $1 billion, including lawmaker pay, office budgets, and health care for retired legislators, while still finishing the state budget four months ahead of schedule. To make sure future generations are not dealing with the state's debt, a more efficient, smarter and leaner, government was essential and we have made significant progress to get there. More than $800 million of that savings was applied toward our long-term debt.

Since day one, I have worked to find solutions to our state's problems that are good for both residents and job creators. Early in 2011, I worked on legislation to prevent additional costly workplace health and wellness standards from being required for Michigan businesses. My bill prevented Michigan from enacting rules on workplace ergonomics that were far more stringent than federal standards. Ergonomics, or the science of workplace design, would add costly expenses for Michigan job providers that they cannot afford. Gov. Snyder signed this legislation into law early in 2011 and I'm pleased businesses no longer have to worry about these extra regulations.

Just this month, my legislation to reform Michigan's workers' compensation laws was sent to Gov. Snyder for approval. The law desperately needed updates to reflect today's modern workplace and the medical advancements that have developed since the law was originally written 100 years ago. My bill updated and clarified the law, cutting down on the need for future litigation. These updates, the first in 25 years, benefit both employers and employees. I'm pleased to have helped eliminate confusion that resulted in unnecessary court costs for employers and a delay in benefits for employees.

Michigan's economy is continuing to grow stronger every day, but there is still a lot of work to be done to help Michigan's struggling families and businesses be successful. I will continue to work hard to serve the residents of the 46th District and work to bring new opportunities to our community. This year has been very busy, exciting and rewarding, but we have only begun to address our reform agenda in Lansing. The bold leadership that has gotten us thus far will continue in 2012 and provide benefits to our children well into the future.

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