House Republicans Should be Applauded for Trying to Cut ‘21st Century Jobs Fund’

The program has been a repeated failure

Michigan House Republicans are advancing a road funding plan that partially relies on cutting $185 million in corporate welfare. The Michigan Economic Development Corp. oversees about $400 million – mostly going to select subsidies for businesses and industries – and does not want to see that cut.

But the governor and the agency are pushing back.

Job creators "want certainty and consistency,” said Gov. Rick Snyder.

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"While we understand that roads are an important issue to the state, this reduction in FY16 funding severely limits the state's ability to have an economic development strategy moving forward," said MEDC CEO Steve Arwood.

Much of the cut to the MEDC would be by eliminating the “21st Century Jobs Fund” – former Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s “blown away” program. As a reminder: The 21CJF repeatedly missed job projections, subsidized failed companies, and received bad marks from the Auditor General.

Employees and supporters of the MEDC claim the entity is different today. But that’s what they have always said – even while the entity presided over the worst economic collapse in Michigan history and repeatedly failed in its objectives.

The MEDC and its allies, from beginning to end, also supported the agency’s MEGA program. But over its lifetime, only 3.9 percent of the projects given credits met or exceeded job projections and less than 19 percent of job promises ever came to be. The program was ended in 2012, but tax credits handed out by the MEDC mean taxpayers are still on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars this year and up to $9 billion over the next few decades.

The Legislature and taxpayers should keep that in mind: No matter how bad a government program fails, those overseeing will always argue to keep it around. The state should get out of the game of picking winners and losers and spend the money on something that benefits everyone.

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