Last week, I commented here that political careerism is at the root of a massive expansion of Michigan's corporate welfare empire. Politicians seeking to remain on the government payroll for the rest of their working lives — including 148 term-limited legislators — are eager to create ever more boards, authorities, agencies, etc., empowered to hand out special favors to particular corporations and industries.
As a result, right now Michigan has at least 58 separate types of "economic development" programs, which translates into hundreds of favor-granting entities at the local level, and probably thousands of politically appointed decision-makers on their managing boards.
If the state Senate goes along with a bill passed by the House with a bipartisan majority last week, we could soon have at least five more local authorities with the power to grant corporate favor-seekers a breathtaking array of tax breaks, abatements, subsidies and other favors.
2009 House Bill 5346 (Create another targeted tax business break/subsidy program )
Passed in the House (87 to 21) on December 9, 2009, to create a new type of targeted tax break and subsidy authorizing entity called "Next Michigan Development Corporations," which would empower certain government officials and appointees to grant select businesses the extensive tax breaks and exemptions of "renaissance zones," in addition to targeted tax breaks authorized by other "economic development" programs. The bill would allow the recipient of a tax break who does not have any tax liability to "sell" the credit to another taxpayer who does owe taxes, in effect making it a subsidy. [Vote Details and Comments]