Governor Rick Snyder delivered his 7th State of the State address this week, highlighting accomplishments, areas that still need work, and priorities for the coming year.
The nonprofit sector in Michigan celebrates the accomplishments and shares some of the same concerns as Governor Snyder. Our vision, like his, is to make Michigan a great place to live, work, and play.
We celebrate the improvement of Michigan’s economy in 2016, notably in agriculture and manufacturing. While these are notable benchmarks for growth in our economy, it is also important to recognize the contribution of the nonprofit sector. Michigan’s nonprofits currently employ nearly 470,000 people -- nearly 11% of Michigan’s workforce. Nonprofits spend more than $80 billion each year, making a significant direct contribution to Michigan’s economy.
Governor Snyder also highlighted a number of issues that nonprofits believe are essential to building strong communities which, if not addressed, will threaten the health and vitality of our state.
The lack of local government funding is making it more and more difficult for cities, townships, and counties to provide vital services. Police, fire, animal shelters, and parks have all been affected. As local units of government look for more funding, we have seen a rise in cases of tax assessors challenging the property tax exemptions of charitable nonprofits. The nonprofits involved are located all over the state and represent a wide variety of charities, such as child development centers, nursing homes, and homeless shelters. Nonprofits have been subject to costly litigation that can last for months or years, consuming time and money which could be better used to serve the needs of our communities.
The Flint water crisis continues to be a stark example of the need to invest in our infrastructure. As the Governor proposed, this investment should come from new sources such as fees, taxes, grants, and bonds.
We also share the Governor’s concern about federal changes to health policy which would impact Healthy Michigan. We too believe Michigan can be a model in crafting health policy moving forward.
Lastly, Governor Snyder set a goal to grow Michigan’s population to 10 million residents. This is an admirable goal that will require all of us to think and act differently. The value of practicing the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion is key to ensuring that Michigan is seen as a welcoming state. MNA has developed resources and training designed to equip nonprofits to serve diverse communities, which will contribute to reaching this goal.
Michigan Nonprofit Association and the nonprofit sector stand ready, as always, to be a strong partner with government to ensure we all succeed.