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March 7, 2021
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Business Review Western MI
Business Review Western MI
Chamber Survey
(2007-02-14)
(wgvu) -
Far from fixation on strictly pocketbook issues, Grand Rapids
business professionals are more concerned about the cost of health
care and the quality of public education than taxation, a new survey
indicates.

We think they're business issues I wouldn't categorize them as
social issues, said Jared Rodriguez, vice president of public policy
and government affairs for the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.

A December survey of 454 of its 2,750 members was the first his
department has conducted to gauge the issue inclinations of the
membership.

It found that, though 81 percent were strongly concerned about
Michigan's economy, 75 percent of respondents are similarly concerned
about the cost of health care and 69 percent about the quality of
public education.

Business taxes, in comparison, as a whole rated strong concern from
only 46 percent. Eighteen percent even said that replacing the Single
Business Tax was of no concern to them and 25 percent said the same
of the personal property tax both components of the Chamber's tax
reform proposal.

That's not so surprising, Rodriguez said, given that about 80 percent
of his membership comes from small businesses. But the survey results
did add impetus to the Chamber's push for its 2006 proposal for
reforming Medicaid in Michigan, he said. Part of that proposal calls
for improved provider reimbursement for services to Medicaid
recipients, to reduce cost shifting to business payers.

A similar advocacy white paper, on education, is due in August, he
added.

The chamber today is scrambling to write its proposed business-tax
reform plan into potential legislation, he said, anticipating that
lawmakers will want to have an SBT replacement plan wrapped up this
spring.

We do have a couple western Michigan (lawmakers) who are interested
in introducing it, or at least arming themselves with amendments for
when the debate begins, he said.

Asked to name their top priority for chamber attention this year,
more respondents named fair replacement of the SBT and the rising
cost of health care. A number of others also supported education
funding, tourism and economic growth in the area.

Reporting revenues of $2.95 million and expenses of $2.9 million for
2006, the chamber turned around its membership loss last year by
signing up 56 more new members than the number lost, it reported. The
organization lost a net 224 members in 2003, 136 in 2004 and 35 in 2005.
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