During her eight years as a member of the Michigan Senate, Nancy Cassis has been a stalwart defender of free enterprise and the principle of a "fair field with no favors" provided by government to particular corporations. She has often been a lonely opponent to the massive expansion of state corporate welfare that the Granholm administration and legislators on both sides of the aisle have substituted for genuine pro-growth economic policies.
Sen. Cassis, R-Novi, will leave the Legislature at the end of this year due to term limits, and last week she delivered a "going away present" to Michigan taxpayers in the form of a four-bill package eliminating the state's worst corporate welfare abuses. In particular, one bill would flat-out ban most cash subsidies that redistribute income from taxpaying families and businesses to a few politically favored businesses and industries (so called "refundable tax credits").
Other bills in the package would tighten up the process of granting selective tax breaks to particular business owners, end the Michigan film production subsidies, and reprioritize the mission of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. away from handouts and toward helping businesses navigate regulatory, geographic and workforce-related obstacles to expansion here.
During her legislative tenure, Sen. Cassis has published many statements in the Senate Journal explaining her opposition to these corporate welfare policies (they can all be viewed on MichiganVotes.org, here). Pasted below is just one, protesting a Senate-passed measure that was a predecessor of the "21st Century Jobs Fund" borrow-and-subsidize law.
A complete list of all of Nancy Cassis's bills and votes described in the MichiganVotes.org "economic development" category can be viewed here.
Michigan Senate Journal, June 9, 2005
Senator Cassis, under her constitutional right of protest (Art. 4, Sec. 18), protested against the passage of Senate Bill No.533 and adoption of Senate Joint Resolution C.
Senator Cassis' statement is as follows:
I voted "no" on Senate Bill No.533 and Senate Joint Resolution C based on certain philosophical and economic principles emphasizing the role and enhancement of the entrepreneurial spirit which, once freed from overly burdensome regulations and taxes, provides the spark, takes the risk, and uses creative and innovative expertise to create jobs--spurring a strong economy. Give them the freedom!
As one Senator, in my opinion, representing almost 300,000 citizens, our state would be better served by investing in broad-based tax relief, providing the incentive and the motivation to invest right here right now. Bonding presents a risk and costs being spread to all taxpayers coming out of the General Fund accompanied by bureaucratic decision-making. Should a government investment in a particular business go sour, there is no trigger mechanism to repay or halt the grant or loan. Michigan's bond rating also could react negatively to our state's risk gone amuck.
Let's encourage winners to emerge on their own in an attractive business climate with motivation to take the risk themselves. Government's record of picking winners is speculative, especially now in a very fast-changing technological and global environment, where our stock market is replete with winners today becoming losers tomorrow. There is so much precedent in America for trusting in private enterprise, in their fiduciary acumen, to make decisions to succeed rather than risking taxpayers' dollars in trying to predict winners.
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