Let the Sun Shine In

Specific MEDC/MEGA Transparency Recommendations

This week, the Michigan House and Senate are both holding hearings on the Michigan Economic Development Corp. after a convicted embezzler on parole duped the Michigan Economic Growth Authority into offering his company a $9.1 million tax credit. The real issue they should examine is not whether the occasional criminal wins an "incentive" deal, but the lack of transparency that characterizes this entire operation.

The Mackinac Center's Michael LaFaive has recommended specific reforms to correct this transparency deficit. If these hearings are about actually fixing problems rather than covering up an embarrassing misstep, lawmakers will take a close look at these proposals and compare them to actual MEDC practices. The contrast will be stark.

LaFaive's transparency recommendations include:

  • Restore an "All MEGA Projects" spreadsheet the agency stopped assembling or sharing sometime in the past few years, and publish it on the Internet. (See pdf of the disontinued spreadsheet here.)
  • Restore data the agency stopped assembling or sharing after 2001 on state education-tax credits, job-training subsidies, and infrastructure subsidies.
  • Publish the value of local government incentives and abatements offered to each MEGA project.
  • Publish a monthy MEGA jobs tally by project for companies that have actually provided jobs and earned MEGA tax credits (as opposed to simply promising them).
  • Publish detailed reports on MEGA deals similar to those of the late 1990s, which included a narrative of the company's and MEGA deal history; the project's location; the company headquarters location; the expected total jobs over the life of the deal, both direct and "indirect," the average weekly wages and benefits of the direct jobs; the capital investment expected; the estimated net positive state government revenue impact; the projected state personal income generated; the explicit value of the local government's contribution to the MEGA deal, and more.

Read the full list here.