Former governor talks education/tax reform

Former Michigan Gov. John Engler said states with the best education and talent will win economically, during his remarks at a Seidman College of Business event.

Engler, president of Business Roundtable, was the keynote speaker at the Peter F. Secchia Breakfast Lecture March 30, at the L. William Seidman Center. Business Roundtable is an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. corporations with a combined workforce of nearly 16 million workers and more than $7 trillion in annual revenues.

Engler said investment in human capital is crucial and states need to “double down” on education. “Nationally, only 36 percent of third-graders can read proficiently at the end of the school year — we can’t make it with that kind of performance,” he said. “Our goal should be 100 percent of students reading proficiently by the end of third grade.”

Engler said millions of dollars are being spent on remediation for college students. He also said tax reform is needed to keep and attract young talent and new businesses. “You can just look around and see that West Michigan is a vibrant area with a lot of new construction. On the financial side, tax reform in the U.S. is the greatest thing we can do to foster success.”

Engler told students in the crowd, in order to become good leaders they must know their business and be able to delegate and develop a strong team and work culture.

A former three-term governor of Michigan, Engler said term limits don’t allow for current state lawmakers to effectively learn about the budget and policies. “In the House of Representatives, lawmakers have two-to-four years of experience. That’s taking a pretty big gamble with a $50 billion budget.”