MDC Programs to be Eliminated


Gross Appropriation

Appropriation Breakdown




Council for


$1,105,900 from Federal Funds;

Arts and Cultural Affairs


$21,734,700 from GF/GP

Program Description:

The Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs awards grants to organizations to fund a variety of projects.  During the past fiscal year, art and cultural grants were awarded to:

Young Audiences of Michigan

Arab Community Center

Dearborn Community Arts Council

Broadside Press

Creative Arts Collective

United Black Artists

Milan Theatre Company

African American Studio Theatre

The Storytellers

Pewabic Society

Arts Foundation of Michigan

Center for Creative Studies

Detroit Artists Market

Detroit Focus

Detroit Public Schools

Harmony House Playhouse

Michigan Veterans Foundation

Clinton County Arts Council

Northville Public Schools

Arts Forum of Western Michigan

Council of Performing Arts

Grand Rapids Art Museum

Grand Rapids Civic Theatre

Junior League of Grand Rapids

Kent County Juvenile Court

Grand Rapids Opera

St. Cecilia Music Society

Community Circle Theatre

Public Museum of Grand Rapids

Muskegon Civic Theatre

Muskegon Museum of Art

Manistee Civic Players

Michigan Youth Arts Festival

Beaver Island Community Schools

Old Town Playhouse

Traverse City Area Public Schools

Arts Midwest

Sault Are Arts Council

Peninsula Arts Appreciation Council

Calumet Theatre

Ironwood Theatre

Jesse Besser Museum

Downriver Council for the Arts

Arts League of Michigan

Braezeal Dennard Chorale

Confined Audiences Production

Detroit Metropolitan Orchestra

James Tatum Trio

Mason Elementary School

Rackham Symphony Choir

Grosse Pointe Public Schools

Accounting Aid Society

Attic Theatre

Concerned Citizens for the Arts

Detroit Theatre Association

Detroit Jazz Orchestra

Graystone Jazz Museum

Michigan Opera Theatre

Clinton County School District

Lowell Area Arts Council

Arts Council of Grand Rapids

Boys Choir of Grand Rapids

David Wolcott Kendall School

Grand Rapids Ballet

Grand Rapids Symphony Society

Kent County Co-op

Michigan Assoc. of Community Arts

Robeson Players

Chamber Choir of Grand Rapids

Michigan Alliance for Arts Education

Holland Community Chorale

Muskegon County Foundation

West Shore Symphony

Art Reach of Mid Michigan

Midland Center for the Arts

Northwestern Michigan College

Traverse Area Arts Council

Traverse Symphony Orchestra

Center for New Television

City of Marquette

William Bonifas Fine Arts Center

Ironwood Area Schools

Crooked Tree Arts Council

Thunder Bay Arts Council

Thunder Bay Theatre

Rebirth Incorporated

Studio of African Dance

Casa de Unidad

Detroit Symphony Orchestra Hall

Gray and Gray Productions

New Detroit Incorporated

Southwest Detroit Business Association

Utica Public Schools

Dearborn Public Schools

Michigan Bach Festival

Inter-Arts Associates

John Glenn High School

Lenawee Symphony Orchestra

Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra

Kalamazoo Arts Council

Irvine Gilmore Keyboard Festival

Kalamazoo Institute of Arts

Mad Hatters

Kalamazoo ISD

Battle Creek Symphony Orchestra

Art Center of Battle Creek

Jackson Symphony Orchestra

Livingston Educational Service Agency

Ann Arbor Art Association

Ann Arbor Summer Festival


Dance Gallery Foundation

Kerrytown Concert House

Papagena Opera Company

University Musical Society

Washtenaw Council for the Arts

Macomb Arts Council

St. Clair Arts Council

Village Bach Festival

Port Huron Museum of Arts and History

Flint Institute of Arts

Flint School District

Greater Flint Arts Council

Saginaw Art Museum

Saginaw Symphony

Young People's Theatre

Arts Council of Lansing

Community Circle Players

Lansing Lyric Opera

Michigan Public Broadcasting

Christo Rey Community Center

Michigan State University

Creative Arts Center of Oakland County

Pontiac Schools District

Rochester Symphony Orchestra

Troy School District

Jazz Development Workshop

Madrigal Chorale

Music Hall Center

Southeast Michigan Arts Forum

Wayne State University

Detroit Center for Performing Arts

Grand Circus Park Development

Michigan Avenue Art Group

Alternative Creative Education

Abbott Middle School

Dearborn Orchestral Society

Friends of Opera

Allen Park Symphony

Plymouth Community Arts Council

Croswell Fine Arts Association

Tibbits Opera Foundation

St. Joseph Art Association

Fontana Concert Society

Kalamazoo Civic Playhouse

Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Society

Whole Art Theatre Company

Battle Creek Boys Choir

Battle Creek Youth Orchestra

Ella Sharpe Museum

Brighton Area Schools

Chinese American Cultural Center

Ann Arbor Theatre

Ann Arbor Symphony

Comic Opera Guild

Great Lakes Performing Artists Assoc.

Michigan Theatre Foundation

Performance Network

U-M Flint

Wild Swan Theatre

New Haven Community Schools

City of St. Clair

International Symphony Orchestra

Buckham Fine Arts Project

Flint Institute of Music

City of Flint

Ballet Cultural Azteca

Saginaw Choral Society

Cheboygan Area Arts Council

Holland Area Arts Council

Boarshead Theatre

Lansing Art Gallery

Lansing Symphony

Michigan Orchestra Association

The Michigan Festival

The Pashami Dancers

Oakland County Cultural Council

Meadow Brook Performing Arts

Troy Chamber of Commerce

Business Consortium for the Arts

Lyric Chamber Ensemble

City of Southfield Parks and Rec.

Cantata Academy

Detroit Area Film and TV

Detroit Dance Collective

Oakland Community College


Grand Rapids Symphony

Ferndale Public Schools

Detroit Chamber Winds

Judson Center

Royal Oak School District

Blue Lakes Fine Arts Camp


Recommended Action:

After his inauguration in January, 1991, Governor Engler indicated his intention to eliminate the Arts and Cultural grant program.  Although he has not followed through, he should.  There are several reasons why this will benefit Michigan citizens and Michigan culture.[35]

First, this $23 million subsidy diminishes the ability of Michigan taxpayers to choose for themselves what types of arts and cultural projects they will support, and places such decisions in the hands of state bureaucrats and their designees.  It is elitist to assume that the "unwashed masses" require government oversight on these very personal matters of value and taste.

Government funding of the arts also has the perverse effect of forcing the poor to subsidize the rich.  Since art museums, operas, and symphonies are frequented predominantly by people of high socio-economic status and education, the cultural grants provide for a fundamentally unfair transfer of wealth from lower income families to higher.  Indeed, Robert J. Samuelson, columnist for Newsweek and The Washington Post, has called funding for the arts "highbrow pork barrel."

Secondly, subsidies are not a necessary precondition to people creating and enjoying artistic works.  The arts and humanities in this country flourished prior to governmental funding and there is no reason to believe that support would cease if the government were to return to its neutral position regarding the arts.  Indeed, some of the finest art ever produced in our country was created without governmental funding.  Great art is a product of individual genius and individual ambition, not governmental involvement.

Some have argued that government subsidies are needed to give the poor access to the arts.  It is interesting to note, however, that with stereo equipment that can be purchased with the earning from a day or two of minimum wage work, a person can hear a variety and quality of music unavailable to kings and queens a century ago.  Music, photographs, prints, televised recorded performances, and even musical instruments and arts and crafts materials, are more available and less expensive than at any time in history.  Public libraries often rent, free-of-charge, compact disks, video classics, and even prints of paintings.  And it is difficult to find a local arts or cultural organization that refuses to make some allowance for low income individuals to attend programs and performances.

A third reason to eliminate political funding is that government subsidies to the arts inevitably lead to the politicization of culture and stifle the creativity and innovation of artists.  No matter how large the art and cultural grant program grows, not every aspiring artist can be the beneficiary of a state grant; hence, there must be some selection process for the grants, and, as a result, artists applying for grants will inevitably pursue work that will be palatable to the potential donor: the state.  What results is the corruption of the artist and his work. It is unlikely that great works such as Thoreau's Civil Disobedience or Tolstoy's War and Peace, both of which were highly critical of the then-current regime, would have been pursued if the authors had been aspiring for governmental funding.  As painter Laura Main has said, "Relying on the government to sponsor art work . . . is to me no more than subjecting yourself to the fate of a governmental lackey."[36]

Sensing the mood of the times, savvy proponents of arts and cultural subsidies have attempted to portray such programs as economic development tools, presenting economic analyses based on dubious "multiplier effects" to show, for example, that $1,000 of art spending generates $11,000 worth of economic benefit.  What such one-sided analyses neglect to discuss is the effect on the Michigan economy if Michigan citizens were allowed to keep and spend this money themselves.  There is absolutely no evidence that state government spending generates any more economic activity than private spending.

It is time for the Michigan Legislature to depoliticize Michigan cultural affairs and leave private citizens and private organizations to develop the diverse, creative, and inspiring works that have always characterized civil society.


Gross Appropriation

Appropriation Breakdown




Public Service Commission:


$2,130,300 from Federal Funds;

Administration, Planning,


$16,195,400 from Special

and Regulation


Revenue Funds

Program Description:

Regulating Michigan's non-municipal utility companies, gas and oil pipelines, telecommunications, and commercial motor transportation industry is the main responsibility of the Public Service Commission. The Commission is best known for setting the rates that utilities may charge their customers. Other functions performed by the Commission include: setting standards of service that each company must meet; approving and monitoring the construction of all gas and pipeline operations; enforcing rules; and approving the issuance of securities by regulated companies.

Recommended Action:

The Public Service Commission should be eliminated. It currently provides an outdated and unnecessary function: the regulation and effective price-fixing of utilities.  Utilities can be provided to customers by the market; they do not need to be provided, effectively, through state government.  If the state were to loosen its control on the utilities industry, one would see a more efficient, cost-effective, and consumer friendly system, with a myriad of suppliers willing to provide service to Michigan's homes and businesses.  Indeed, the Public Service Commission itself has begun to recognize this fact.

On April 11, 1994, the Public Service Commission announced that Michigan would be the first state to experiment with a program allowing major customers of Detroit Edison and Consumers Power to bypass those utilities and shop for electric power from dozens of independent competitors. Known as "retail wheeling," the five year experiment will allow those customers essentially to rent the two utilities' wires and purchase electricity from other sources.  Thus far the program has been successful, with many companies choosing to contract electrical services from providers other than the two major utilities.  As Frank Corley, a Ford executive, recently said, "We want to see the same kinds of opportunities in electric utilities that we have seen in the natural gas industry. Companies need more opportunities to save money."  Moreover, Ford and other large companies have been able to force competition in other ways, as well.  They are cutting special rate deals with the utility providers, helping communities set up their own municipal power companies, and building their own power plants.  Although it is preferable to have utilities owned privately rather than by municipal governments, both private and municipal efforts are affecting the dynamics of the market.  Indeed, Big Three automakers recently negotiated a $30 million annual rate cut with Detroit Edison, and city officials in Alma are trying to become the first city in Michigan in 50 years to set up a municipal utility.  As a result, Mick Hiser, director of the Commission's Competitive Utilities and Energy Resources Division, has said, "This industry is moving swiftly to competition. This is not pie-in-the-sky stuff."

The state legislature should recognize the effectiveness of such market-oriented solutions and act appropriately; they should eliminate the Public Service Commission and allow the market to work as it should, unhampered.  What would result is greater consumer choice, lower prices, and more successful small providers entering the market.[38]


Gross Appropriation

Appropriation Breakdown




Grant to Department of


All from Federal Funds

Public Health



Program Description:

The Grant to the Michigan Department of Public Health (MDPH) will provide $555,800, via the U.S. Department of Energy, to the MDPH for nuclear emergency planning and response.

Recommended Action:

The Department of Commerce should refuse the money provided by the U.S. Department of Energy for this grant, and in so doing eliminate its subsequent grant to the Michigan Department of Public Health.  Other industries, such as chemical producers, work in conjunction with community leaders to provide emergency planning and response programs, and the nuclear power industry should be no different.  Nuclear emergency planning should be the responsibility of communities and the industry, and not funded by state or federal government.


Gross Appropriation

Appropriation Breakdown




Michigan State Fair


All from Special Revenue Funds

Program Description:

The Michigan State Fair is a once a year self-financing event held every summer on the state fairgrounds in Detroit.

Recommended Action:

While it is true that the Michigan State Fair is an enjoyable event for many people each summer, sponsoring fairs is not a proper function of government in a civil society.  Every year, thousands come from across the country to enjoy Michigan's natural wonders. And millions enjoy such entertainment opportunities as attending professional sporting events and privately run fairs and festivals.  The Michigan State Fair is no different; there is no reason to believe that we need the state to run the Michigan State Fair in order for there to be one. If there is sufficient demand for a fair of this type--and clearly there is--then private organizations will respond to that demand and conduct one.[41] This program should be eliminated.


Gross Appropriation

Appropriation Breakdown




Liquor Merchandising


All from Special Revenue Funds

and Warehousing



Program Description:

The Liquor Merchandising and Warehousing Program operates three liquor warehouses and 76 state stores selling spirits to retail licensees. The operation is divided into three geographic districts throughout the state, and each district has its own warehouse and groups of wholesale and retail stores.

Recommended Action:

The Liquor Merchandising and Warehouse office is a program that has been cited for elimination by various organizations, analysts, and legislators for many years.  It is time for these recommendations to be heeded; the state legislature should act immediately to eliminate this office.  Like other goods--even those like tobacco, which many view with disdain--the distribution of spirits can be handled by the private sector directly.  There simply is no need for a middleman--in this case, state government--to handle the distribution between the alcohol manufacturing companies and the licensed distributors of alcohol throughout the state. If the bars, stores, and other distributors of alcohol are licensed, then the state should take action against these licensees at the point of sale, if they believe that they are selling alcohol which violates the regulations of their license. There is no need to take the preventive measure of having the Liquor Control Commission sell the alcohol directly to them.

There is one additional point that needs to be raised regarding the termination of this program. If the legislature acted to end the merchandising and warehousing program, more than the $25 million budgeted for operating this program would be effectively saved. In addition to the initial $25 million, the state would also be able to sell the warehouses currently used by this program, and in so doing, be able to, as the Department of Management and Budget (DMB) has written, "reap a short term cash windfall."[43]

In conclusion, the Liquor Merchandising and Warehousing program of the Liquor Control Commission is a prime example of Lansing overstepping its bounds and delving into an area that can be handled more efficiently by the private sector. The legislature should take this opportunity to streamline government and do as DMB has suggested: terminate the Merchandising and Warehousing program.


Gross Appropriation

Appropriation Breakdown




Liquor Control


All from Special Revenue Funds

Commission Grant



Program Description:

The Liquor Control Commission will appropriate a $408,100 grant to the Department of Agriculture's Wine Industry Council, for use in advancing and promoting Michigan's wine industry.

Recommended Action:

As suggested in this study's analysis of the Department of Agriculture, the Wine Industry Council should be eliminated, since it performs a service that can and should be handled by the private sector--the promotion of private industry.  This form of corporate welfare should be ended immediately by eliminating the Liquor Control Commission Grant.


Gross Appropriation

Appropriation Breakdown




Mobile Home Commission;


All from Special Revenue Funds

Mobile Home and Land



Resources Program; Local Mobile



Home Park Inspections



Program Description:

These programs license the manufacturers of mobile and manufactured homes, as well the proprietors of mobile home parks. They also conduct inspections of mobile home parks to verify that state regulations are being followed.

Recommended Action:

There is no need for the state to intervene between the consumers and producers of mobile homes, or for it to intervene between the would-be inhabitants of a mobile home park and the proprietor of that mobile home park.  In both instances the consumer is capable of determining whether or not he will engage in a transaction with the provider of the good.  If, after purchasing the good, he believes he has been defrauded, then he can take legal action against the seller of that good, whether it be the mobile home manufacturer or the mobile home park proprietor.  With respect to mobile home parks, local construction and health codes and land use planning measures are adequate to provide guidelines for development.  Preventive action by the state in the form of regulation of these activities is unnecessary and harmful.  These programs should be eliminated.