Time to End the 21st Century Jobs Fund

New Mackinac study featured in state media

Michigan’s 21st Century Jobs Fund program is fatally flawed and lawmakers ought to put it out of its misery, one Mackinac Center analyst argued in a recent op-ed published in The Detroit News.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm promised the program would blow the state away, but 10 years later, taxpayers have little to show for the hundreds of millions of dollars reallocated through the jobs fund. Aside from the fund’s lack of transparency, questionable reporting practices and possible constitutional issues, Mackinac Center’s Assistant Director of Fiscal Policy argues the entire premise of the corporate welfare program is flawed.

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The state does not have great expertise in picking winners and losers and is even less likely to do so when the pool of options is limited. …

The legislation that created the program says that it is about diversifying the economy and creating jobs. Those are measurable goals but tough to measure when the data is hidden.

But creating jobs and diversifying the economy is unlikely to happen because the program is not set up to succeed. Its scope is not large enough to make a dent in the job creation picture. The state economy creates tens of thousands of jobs every month and loses a similar number.

Hohman authored a new study evaluating the fund, which The Peninsula covered.

The originators of this program wanted a self-sustaining economic development fund that would create 72,000 jobs,” James Hohman, assistant director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center and the study’s author, said. “A decade later, hundreds of millions are gone and only 6,500 jobs are claimed as a result of this spending. Even then, state auditors have warned about the quality of data in the reports on this program and the administrators of it have not complied with transparency requirements.”

Hohman said any economic impact by the 21st Century Jobs Fund has been negligible and argued the money invested into it would be better spent elsewhere.

Read the full op-ed in The Detroit News here.

Read The Peninsula’s report here.

Read Hohman’s latest study, An Evaluation of Michigan’s 21st Century Jobs Fund, here.


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