Michigan should not stop fanning fires of innovation

Guest Editorials

Michigan needs more ideas, such as Secretary of State’s office-sharing proposal

Just because there will be more cash coming in than officials had originally expected doesn’t mean it’s time to stop reinventing our state.

Someday, we may look back and mark this as the moment when Michigan officially turned the corner, economically.

This week, economists said tax revenues are going to be higher than anticipated, and for the first time since 2000, more jobs will be created than lost in our state.

These reports are good reason to rejoice — but not rest. We’re not out of this mess yet.

In that spirit, we’d like to applaud innovative, practical money-saving ideas in Michigan that are worth implementing. Send us ideas you think have merit and we’ll share them.

To prime the pump, here’s a good example: With the Department of State Police planning to close some of its posts in cost-cutting moves, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson has offered to allow troopers to use office space in some branch offices.

Sharing space for these two departments would save money for both, Johnson said.

For some of their duties, troopers require access to secure high-speed Internet connections; Secretary of State branch offices require the same sort of secure computer connections. Johnson has offered to share that service, and the $19,000 annual cost for it. The charges to the State Police for the connections would be offset by reduced travel time and fuel consumption for troopers who currently have to drive to the nearest post.

“It would serve law enforcement’s needs as well as provide a police presence in some of our branch offices,” Johnson said.

Discussions have begun on how the arrangement might work and which branch offices might be useful to the State Police.

Michigan State Police are “pleased that Secretary Johnson is offering Secretary of State branch offices as detachments,” spokeswoman Tiffany Brown said. “We look forward to working with her and her staff to determine where this would be most feasible.

“This type of cooperation among agencies is in the best interests of the citizens of Michigan, both in terms of controlling costs and improving public safety. We are grateful for her assistance.”

As annual state budgets go, this proposal may amount to a drop in the proverbial bucket — although savings to state police, given the high cost of fuel, may add up fast — but the idea could lead to other synergies and quality service with a state police presence at some Secretary of State offices.

That’s all good.

We need more thinking like this to move Michigan forward.

It didn’t take a year or two to get into this trough.

It’s going to some good innovative ideas and a concerted collaborative effort to get us out.