Yet Another Lansing 'Scaffolding for Plunder?'

Republicans pushing more crony capitalism

Does Michigan have enough schemes for local governments to tax-and-spend without full democratic accountability, or could it use more?

Does it benefit the people of this state to expand the ability of local governments to borrow-and-spend on “business improvement” projects designed to benefit certain property owners more than the community as a whole?

When Republican candidates for the Michigan Legislature in 2010 promised the broad Tea Party movement that they would dial back the amount of crony capitalist empire-building in this state, were they just blowing smoke?

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These are questions state representatives may want to consider as they consider Senate Bill 257, which passed the Senate in April and may be up for consideration in the House this week. Here’s how described the bill:

Introduced by Sen. Mike Kowall (R), to expand the items that a “Business Improvement Zone” can spend money on, reduce the proportion of property owners in the district needed to impose a zone's tax-and-spending powers, increase the proportion needed to dissolve them, reduce certain notification requirements required to establish one of these zones, allow the "zone" to sell services to particular property owners, increase penalties for not paying the "special assessment" taxes it imposes, and make other changes. These zones may be created by owners of a majority of the property in a certain area (not the same as the majority of owners), and have the power to impose property taxes (special assessments) to pay for the debt they incur to pay for projects that are supposed to benefit the property owners. Passed in the Senate 35-2, Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No”