Cutting government regulations should be possible; we’ll see if public views it as priority

Guest Editorial
We know our elected officials can walk and chew gum at the same time. But they, like any of us, are limited by the finite time in their schedules. The result: They must set clear priorities.

No matter whether you agree with them, Gov. Rick Snyder and Michigan’s Republican state lawmakers have done that exceedingly well. They set out to balance the state budget (before the last minute, too) and reform business taxes. Missions accomplished.

Snyder and his Republican colleagues now are focusing on more business-friendly reforms: hoping to eliminate the personal property tax that employers pay and weeding out unnecessary regulations. State Rep. Mike Shirkey (R-Clark Lake) will bring that latter issue into the spotlight Monday with a forum at Baker College on state regulations that can be eliminated.

That Shirkey and other lawmakers will find examples of redundant or restrictive state laws is inevitable. Snyder pointed to outdated Michigan laws about outhouses in his recent State of the State address. At the urging of the owner of Knutson’s Recreational Sales in Brooklyn,, Shirkey himself helped repeal a state law regarding live minnows and bait that hurt business.

The bigger issue with this agenda is this: Is it the best one to pursue?

State lawmakers and the governor, after all, could make a priority of other issues. There’s K-12 education, or higher education, both of which have advocates who say the Legislature has not funded them adequately. There’s the strained social safety net, hit by a double whammy of funding cuts and extra demand.

The argument for whether either of these, or another cause, is more important than streamlining government regulation is philosophical. Shirkey, Snyder and other business-minded lawmakers argue government too often stands in the way of private sector innovation and hiring. Give employers more freedoms — while still looking out for the public good — and their actions will be good for the economy.

Voters will likely express whether they feel Shirkey has chosen the right priorities at re-election time in November. They make get some help in making their decision depending on how many business owners turn out Monday to show, in numbers, if this issue matters to them.