Last year when I wrote about this, I was attacked. Sitting here with a head full of Vicodin, an arm in a cast, and battling with my usual full-blown seasonal-affected disorder, I didn't quite know how to respond. Panic set me off on a basic primal instinct fight-or-flight thought pattern: I got dressed, found my coat, and was two seconds away from going to the emergency room to have the cast cut off my arm so I would be free to fight.
Christmas Eve, and I was in hell. Sweat broke out over my body, and I paced the floor. I'm not sure what intervened to calm me down. Maybe it was the thought of permanent damage to my hand and wrist if I lost the cast in this condition, because chances are, in that state I would have done something bad to it accidentally if it were free to move around. The bone had not yet begun to knit, and any jarring to it probably would have dictated surgery to fix it. At some point, common sense entered my racing head and told me to knock this shit off, this reaction was not rational. I read up on cast claustrophobia, took some deep breaths, looked at some pretty pictures, and then decided on the "flight" response. I popped another pain killer and finally knocked myself out.
I was thinking of blowing this off this year - understandably - but the list of accomplishments we have achieved should not be ignored. And, I am one helluva lot stronger after all the beatings. It's to the point where it doesn't phase me that much anymore - and in the face of what is coming up for 2009, I really don't have the time for "teh stupid", so I'm going to ignore it as best as I can from now on.
Adversity does serve a purpose.
2006 was draining. 2007 was really draining. 2008?
As the self-described toughest year of her administration comes to an end, Governor Jennifer Granholm said Monday that the state had to be "relentless" and "obsessive" in its efforts to restructure the economy, and that despite all the struggles Michigan will be all right in time.
"We're a tough state, a tough people, we'll be all right," Granholm said as she concluded her year-end press conference.
Yeah we will. It's just going to take some time, and the will to fight through the tough times to come in '09. You ready? It's going to get pretty bad. With the auto restructuring, we are looking to lose anywhere from 100,000 to 200,000 jobs next year. The dominos have already been set in motion. Tax revenues are down, cuts will have to be made, the right is gearing up to blame this all on the Democrats, and we are going to need all hands on deck to maintain the quality of life and the plans already in place that will position us for job growth in the future.
Looking back at the State of the State Address from last January, we got a lot done, the bills that will bring the alternative energy jobs here being the most important, IMO. The credit crisis may slow things down a bit - but the demand is still there. Just recently we landed Global Wind Systems to build turbines, and according to Peter Luke, it was the RPS that did it. Just last night there was a story about BP Alternative Energy looking to build wind farms over here on the west side to take advantage of the winds off of Lake Michigan.
The jobs are coming. And if Obama is serious about the 25 x 25 and the investment in alternative energy/national stimulus plan, we might be better off than we think. The doom criers are going to cry their doom (and sometimes that will be me, too) but underneath, always, always, keep that hope alive.
Here is the list from the state of what we managed to achieve in this "toughest year".
1. Diversifying the economy to create a job for every worker.
- Proposed, fought for, and signed into law energy legislation, mandating that 10 percent of the state's energy come from renewable sources, helping create new energy jobs.
- The governor's Centers of Energy Excellence are further accelerating new energy job creation by connecting six growing companies involved in advanced battery and alternative fuel development with research universities and government.
- Created and retained more than 105,000 jobs in 2008, including more than 60 percent in the targeted sectors of alternative energy, advanced manufacturing, life sciences and homeland security.
- In 2007, the governor created the Defense Contract Coordination Center (DC3) through the 21st Century Jobs Fund to increase federal government contracting opportunities for Michigan companies. In just one year, DC3 exceeded its goal of more than doubling the contracts won - $755 million in contracts that will help create nearly 6,000 new jobs.
- At the governor's insistence, the Legislature passed new incentives to ensure that Michigan is the center of U.S. efforts to develop batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles, which are currently only manufactured overseas.
- The governor's No Worker Left Behind initiative has helped more than 50,000 displaced workers prepare for new careers by enrolling in training in just over one year.
- Michigan's film and movie-making economic development program, the most aggressive in the nation, increased motion picture production. To date, the state has received 215 proposals and approved 71 projects, which will add more than $430 million to the state's economy.
- Granholm continued her "go anywhere and do anything" commitment to bring jobs to Michigan, traveling to Japan, Israel and Jordan in 2008. To date, the governor's seven international jobs missions have resulted in 43 companies announcing more than $955 million in new investment and more than 10,700 jobs created and retained.
2. Providing a quality education for every child.
- Governor Granholm proposed and won funding for the 21st Century Schools Fund to help school districts replace large high schools with low academic achievement and high dropout rates, with small high schools that use relationships, discipline and relevance to help at-risk kids achieve.
- Four more revolutionary new "early college" high schools will open this year, giving students the opportunity to prepare for careers in health care. These four schools will join the six early college high schools which opened last year, creating relevancy for students looking for hands-on experience.
- Despite severe budgetary challenges, Granholm was able to push spending for K-12 education to an all-time high.
- The governor also proposed and secured additional funding for early childhood education, giving 2,800 additional four-year-olds access to quality preschool.
- Granholm will soon sign legislation she proposed to help other communities create Kalamazoo Promise-like scholarship opportunities.
3. Making health care affordable and accessible for every family.
- In 2008, Governor Granholm continued her fight to make health care affordable and accessible to every citizen. Medicaid caseloads increased by an average of 43,000 per month over the course of fiscal year 2008. Despite the economic challenges of this rising demand, no citizen was refused state-sponsored health care this year.
- The Granholm administration's commitment to provide seniors the care they need in their own homes continues to expand care options and save money. In 2008, more than 500 citizens were transitioned from nursing homes to community living. Since 2003, Michigan has reduced nursing home use by 1.1 million days, saving more than $100 million annually.
- The governor proposed and received additional funding for the Michigan Nursing Corps which is already training more than 100 nurse educators and clinical instructors to meet rising demand. Since 2004, administration efforts to address the nursing shortage have helped add more than 9,300 nurses in Michigan.
4. Protecting our families and our quality of life.
- Governor Granholm signed the Great Lakes Compact to set standards for sustainable water use and to prevent large scale withdrawals and diversions outside our region. The compact, which has been ratified by Congress and signed by President Bush, makes Michigan a world leader in the scientific management of water.
- The Department of Corrections expanded the Michigan Prisoner ReEntry Initiative (MPRI) to reduce recidivism in our prisons. The program was expanded to all 83 counties in 2008 and has reduced the recidivism rate by one third.
- As gas prices spiked to more than $4 per gallon, Michigan Department of Agriculture inspectors worked harder to ensure that motorists received the quantity and the quality of gasoline they expected. Thanks to their hard work, 92 percent of gas pump meters now comply with state regulations, up from 79 percent just four years ago.
- Granholm's Cities of Promise initiative continued to revitalize Michigan's urban centers this year, including the Blight Elimination Program which exceeded its goal of eliminating more than 1,500 blighted properties in 2008.
- The Michigan State Police and Department of Corrections continued their efforts to track down fugitives and sex offenders not in compliance with the law. Through ongoing Project SAFE Streets and Operation Verify sweeps, 810 fugitives and 270 sex offenders were arrested in 2008.
Thanks go out to the governor and the Legislature for working through the adversity and getting these points accomplished. I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas, and my best wishes to all for the New Year - and I sincerely mean that.
Here's to 2009. Let's look to the bright side.