Writing in the Detroit Free Press, three advocates of selective government
tax credits give Gov. Rick Snyder credit for streamlining state government, but
believe his administration has “missed the mark” by working to eliminate the
brownfield and historic tax credit programs.
The co-authors write that these programs “provide critical
incentives for private developers to invest in our state’s central cities” and
go on to note that the tax credit programs “create incentives for private
investment.” They also note a study from the Michigan chapter of the National
Brownfield Association that claims the state returns 10 cents on the dollar for every
dollar given to these companies in the form of a tax rebate.
Gov. Snyder has proposed eliminating or greatly reducing
Michigan’s failed economic development programs partly in order to use
that money to reduce the state’s overall business tax burden.
But the writers of this article seem to still rely
on the idea that the positive economic impact of reducing the tax
burden only happens when government bureaucrats get to pick the winners
and losers. In conclusion, they write, “The bottom line? Michigan’s brownfield
and historic tax credit programs work. They facilitate private investment. They
have a great return on investment. They revitalize our communities like no
other tool can. They are fair — a viable project either meets program criteria
or it does not, regardless of size, location or political connections.”
There is nothing “fair” about unelected boards deciding
which companies pay higher taxes and which companies pay less. Real fairness
would dictate that government rules be a level playing field; ensuring
that all companies compete on equal grounds — whether the ground is brown or
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