MIDLAND, Mich. — Supplemental legislation passed during Thursday's spending spree in Lansing came with a $717.5 million price tag for state taxpayers, over half of which will be spent by giving money directly to select businesses. The $450 million in corporate handouts approved in Senate Bill 7 is the latest corporate welfare deal added to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s Business Subsidy Scorecard. The scorecard tracks how Michigan legislators have voted on corporate welfare deals from 2001 until now.
“Lawmakers are going to waste more taxpayer dollars chasing business headlines,” said James Hohman, director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center. “While other states are improving their business climates, Michigan is subsidizing select companies to distract voters from their failure to recover the jobs lost during the pandemic.”
Taxpayers should be wary of the corporate welfare deals that were included in the bill. Research shows that these types of subsidies are expensive to taxpayers and unfair to businesses that don’t receive them. They also do very little to create jobs. This trend is nothing new. In 2020, the Mackinac Center analyzed more than 2,300 corporate welfare deals, dating back to 1983, and found that the costs greatly outweighed the benefits.
“Last week's spending spree shows a serious lack of restraint and transparency on the part of the Legislature,” said Michael LaFaive, senior director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center. “To start a legislative session by spending over $700 million, $450 million of which are select business subsidies, is a slap in the face to taxpayers. The Legislature’s willingness to hand out fiscal favors with no input from the taxpayers who must underwrite them is irresponsible.”
The process by which the spending bill was passed left taxpayers in the dark. The version passed on Thursday night did not go through any Appropriation Committee hearings, and it was filled with additional spending that the public was not made aware of until the bill was ultimately reported out of a conference committee. The legislature denied taxpayers any opportunity to give meaningful feedback. Lawmakers in Washington, D.C. may be able to get away with these type of backroom deals, but Michigan residents shouldn’t tolerate this from their representatives in Lansing.
“Michigan’s corporate welfare history is littered with secretive dealings, foot-dragging on FOIA demands, and a refusal to respond to tough questions,” said LaFaive. “The public deserves better. Short of eliminating taxpayer subsidies for corporations, Lansing politicians should make details of these deals public weeks before they are approved.”
View how current members of the 102nd Michigan Legislature have voted on business subsidies here.
View the complete business subsidy scorecard, dating back to 2001, here.
The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a nonprofit research and educational institute that advances the principles of free markets and limited government. Through our research and education programs, we challenge government overreach and advocate for a free-market approach to public policy that frees people to realize their potential and dreams.
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