LANSING–Proving that the nearest thing to eternal life may be a government program, the state of Michigan is still doling out corporate welfare in 1999 that was intended back in the late 1970s to be temporary.

Tens of millions of dollars have been spent by the state to buy buses which it then leases to Greyhound Lines, Inc. and two other firms for the token sum of $1 per year per bus. The program was started during the short-lived oil crisis during the Carter administration. Officials felt private firms like Greyhound needed a boost in order to get people onto buses and out of their gas-guzzling automobiles.

The program came to light in February, thanks to a story in the Lansing State Journal by reporter Paul Egan. Subsequently, the paper editorially opposed the program, citing Greyhound’s recent profitability and the fact that "a company spokesman says that even without subsidies, it’s unlikely Greyhound would cut any of its routes."

State Senators Phil Hoffman and David Jaye immediately denounced the program and promised to eliminate funding for it in the next state budget. Only this past January, the State Administrative Board approved another $1.9 million to buy five more buses for Greyhound.