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Here's what's happening at the Mackinac Policy Conference

May 28, 2015

Grand Hotel, host of the Mackinac Policy conference
Credit David Ball / creative commons

Every year business minds from around the world come together at the Mackinac Policy Conference to help shape the economic future of Detroit and the state of Michigan.

Hosts of Michigan Radio’s It’s Just Politics, Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta, were there to tell us more.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan made news when he dropped that he will not run for governor in 2018.

With shutoffs of delinquent Detroit water accounts and the bailout of Detroit’s public schools, Duggan sent a signal suggesting he has too much on his plate to focus on elections.

Road funding

Contrary to what would be expected from a business-centric, Republican-leaning crowd, Pluta says, business leaders at the conference are making it a mission to get Michigan policymakers to spend more on things such as roads and Detroit public schools.

Gov. Rick Snyder

Snyder states that road funding is a continued mission. The governor says it’s time for lawmakers to come together and tweak things to hopefully arrive at a $1 billion-plus fund.

Polls show that while voters believe the state should and is morally obliged to help students at DPS, they don't necessarily feel it should be a financial obligation.

Clark asked the governor how he plans to sell something that will cost the state millions and millions of dollars.

"(The) Grand Bargain's a great illustration of where we proved that you can have Michiganders come together to solve a problem that was unique to one geography. What happens in the city impacts every other corner of our state. It is again that concept of understanding the we’re together, like a family."

Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lon Johnson

Clark interviewed Lon Johnson, the chair of the Michigan Democratic Party.

"We need to be the world’s thought leader on the use and protection of fresh water. Ideas like passenger rail service, everywhere. Ideas like high-speed Internet, everywhere. We need to make these investments so that we can stop losing our children and our grandchildren to cities like Chicago, Atlanta, and San Francisco. We can compete but we must invest in the future," says Johnson.

How does the party plan to translate these big ideas to win elections?

"In part, we lost in 2014 because we did not do that. When you show the voters precisely how you are going to get something done, they will respond to that. If you don't, they will not turn out and you will not win."