Michigan Budget Director Leaving for Alma Mater

After balancing Michigan's budget and creating sweeping tax reforms, John Nixon, a former POY, is taking a position at the University of Utah.
by | February 14, 2014 AT 5:00 PM
David Kidd

Michigan’s budget chief is heading back to Utah for a top position at the University of Utah, his alma mater.

John Nixon has been Michigan’s director of Technology, Management and Budget for the last three years. Mighigan Gov. Rick Snyder brought Nixon to the state to help him in massive financial turnaround effort. (Nixon previously served as Utah’s director of planning and budget.) Just six weeks into his job in Lansing, Nixon rebalanced the state budget from a $1.5 billion deficit and helped create what would eventually become sweeping tax-reform. The changes simplified Michigan's tax structure and reduced the income tax rate to 4.25 percent from 4.35 percent and eliminated the controversial business tax. But it also included the elimination or reduction of many long-standing household deductions and exemptions.

The efforts and programs like a $2.5 million grant program to fund small but innovative IT projects earned him a Public Official of the Year award from Governing in 2012.

“John Nixon’s impact on Michigan’s comeback is immeasurable,” Snyder said in a statement announcing the move. “He played a key role in restoring Michigan’s fiscal accountability. He’s been a trusted adviser, an outstanding director and a true professional.”

Nixon will become the chief business officer at the University of Utah and is also joining the Governing Institute as a senior fellow. The Institute’s fellows represent a diverse group of professionals with vast experience in the public sector and expertise in the issues and challenges facing local governments and states. The Institute, founded in 2011, seeks to advance better government by improving performance and outcomes through research, decision support and executive education to help public sector leaders govern more effectively.

“It’s been a privilege to be a part of [Michigan’s recovery] and I am proud of what we have accomplished in such a short time,” Nixon said in a statement. “This decision to leave was not easy, but I know Michigan’s turnaround will continue at full speed.”