Michigan falls in ‘business friendly’ rankings over education, quality of life

    Michigan's Capitol
    Michigan Capitol | Susan J. Demas

    Michigan’s education funding woes have caught the attention of the national financial media. 

    Mackinac Bridge
    Mackinac Bridge | Susan J. Demas

    Earlier this month CNBC released its annual “America’s Top States for Business.” Michigan was middle of the pack, ranked 24th, trailing Missouri and ahead of New Hampshire. Virginia was ranked the best state in the country for doing business, just ahead of Texas and North Carolina. Mississippi, Hawaii and Rhode Island were ranked the worst, according to the financial news network’s list. 

    Also of note is Michigan’s significant drop in the annual rankings. In 2018, the network had Michigan as the 11th best state in the country. CNBC uses a variety of sources for its rankings including U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and Moody’s Investor Service. 

    In 2019, Michigan was given high marks for its cost of living, as well as technology and innovation, mostly due to the heavy presence of the automotive industry, but was dragged down by its poor education system and quality of life, which got grades of “D-” and “D+,” respectively. 

    Whitmer, Gilchrist join teacher rally for more education funding

    “The state’s auto industry is an engine for technology and innovation, but underfunded schools are affecting student progress,” CNBC said of the state. 

    Interestingly, CNBC gave the state’s infrastructure a “C,” a more generous grade than the “D+” that Michigan received from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

    Educators in the state have praised Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s proposed budget to increase education funding. 

    Gretchen Whitmer
    Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at a Capitol rally for public schools, June 18, 2019 | Derek Robertson

    Speaking last month at a teacher’s rally at the state Capitol, Whitmer blasted Republican legislators for not properly funding education. 

    Whitmer told the crowd last month that “our challenges are because of a failure in this building behind me [the Capitol], not because of our children.” She called upon the Republican-controlled Legislature to pass it in order to “reduce class size, to give our kids the wraparound support they need, and … to make sure that our educators can make a living doing the hardest job there is.”

    Nick Manes
    Nick Manes covers West Michigan, business and labor, health care and the safety net. He previously spent six years as a reporter at MiBiz covering commercial real estate, economic development and all manner of public policy at the local and state levels. His byline also has appeared in Route Fifty and The Daily Beast. When not reporting around the state or furiously tweeting, he enjoys spending time with his girlfriend, Krista, biking around his hometown of Grand Rapids and torturing himself rooting for the Detroit Lions.

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