A news service for the people of Michigan from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy

An extension of a special tax favor for Michigan International Speedway was approved by the Michigan House on June 10 and sent to the Senate, but not without a dozen votes of opposition from both Republicans and Democrats. Critics from both parties used the opportunity to make public statements denouncing the policy of state government giving preferential perks to favored businesses. The Michigan Economic Development Corp. is the embattled state agency that runs the program for granting the special tax perks. It is under fire after recently creating a deal for a company run by a convicted embezzler, and has been the subject of a recent study from the Mackinac Center showing that the state's policy of granting special tax favors has substantially failed to provide promised jobs and economic growth.

MIS is already eligible for a multimillion-dollar tax credit for a period extending from 2008 to 2012. According to a Michigan House Fiscal Agency memo, the existing credit was designed to apply to capital improvements at the super speedway, such as renovations to the grandstands and infield. House Bill 6235 provides a four-year extension for the credit, through the 2016 tax year and requires MIS to make $32 million in capital improvements in order to claim the credit.

State Rep. Fred Miller, D-Mt. Clemens, was one of the votes against HB 6235.

"I'm finally starting to understand how this works," said Miller, according to the MIRS newsletter (www.mirsnews.com, subscription required). "Someone calls their lobbyist and says 'I'm paying for a lobbyist, so I shouldn't have to pay any taxes at all.'"

"It's neither fair nor economically sound to tax working class and middle class people, and to impose the onerous Michigan Business Tax on small businesses, to pay for massive subsidies to special interests," chimed in Rep. Justin Amash, R-Grand Rapids, in one of his regular Facebook vote explanations from the floor of the House.

But, according to MIRS, supporters of the legislation argued that special tax perks for auto racing are better than the special tax perks that go to other sporting events.

"MIS creates more tax revenue for the state of Michigan than the Super Bowl did while it was here a couple of years ago," stated Rep. Joel Sheltrown, D-West Branch. "And it does it several weekends a year, not just once."

The National Football League was the indirect beneficiary of another special tax arrangement created by the Michigan Legislature in 2004. More than $1 million in hotel taxes levied on metro Detroit businesses and originally intended for work on Cobo Hall were diverted to the Super Bowl XL host committee.

The HFA states that the special tax deal would reduce MIS's business tax bite by as much as $530,000 in 2012 and then by as much as $1.58 million per year for the years from 2013 through 2016.

The bill was approved on a vote of 92-12. Four Republicans and eight Democrats cast "no" votes.

The Michiganvotes.org roll call is noted below. Contact information for all lawmakers is available at www.MichCapCon.com/9313.

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Lawmakers voting IN FAVOR of extending a special tax perk for a super speedway:

HOUSE REPUBLICANS

Agema Ball Bolger Booher Calley
Caul Crawford Daley Denby DeShazor
Elsenheimer Genetski Green Haines Hansen
Haveman Hildenbrand Horn Jones, Rick Kowall
Kurtz Lori Lund Marleau Meekhof
Meltzer Moore Moss Opsommer Pavlov
Pearce Proos Rocca Rogers Schmidt, W.
Schuitmaker Stamas Tyler Walsh

HOUSE DEMOCRATS

Angerer Barnett Bauer Brown, L. Brown, T.
Byrnes Byrum Clemente Corriveau Cushingberry
Dean Dillon Donigan Durhal Ebli
Geiss Gonzales Gregory Griffin Haase
Hammel Haugh Jackson Jones, Robert Kandrevas
Kennedy Lahti LeBlanc Leland Lemmons
Lindberg Lipton Liss Mayes McDowell
Meadows Melton Nathan Nerat Neumann
Polidori Schmidt, R. Scott, B. Scripps Segal
Sheltrown Slezak Spade Stanley Valentine
Warren Womack Young

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Lawmakers voting AGAINST extending a special tax perk:

HOUSE REPUBLICANS

Amash Knollenberg McMillin Scott, P.

HOUSE DEMOCRATS  

Bledsoe Constan Miller Roberts Slavens
Smith Switalski Tlaib

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Lawmakers who DID NOT VOTE:

Bennett (D) Espinoza (D) Huckleberry (D) Johnson (D)

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2010 House Roll Call 258 on 2010 House Bill 6235

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See also:

Embattled Agency in Charge of Special Tax Favors Snaps at Critics

State MEGA Audit Finds MEGA Problems

Statewide Media Respond to MEDC Complaints Over Criticism of its Failures

SMALL BUSINESSES VOTE DOWN "GIVE AWAY" PROGRAMS

Google Jobs Lacking, Yet Some Locals Still Consider It a 'Badge of Honor' for Ann Arbor

No Audits for Ten Years on Companies Getting Special Tax Breaks from State

State Taxpayers Eat $350K Loan for East Lansing Property Purchase

MEDC Letter an Admission of Failure

Lawmaker Says 'Willful Neglect' Is the Rule at Embattled State Agency

Lawmaker Says $150 Million in Unearned Tax Credits Given Out by State

MEDC Failures Lead to Less Transparency

Fact-Checking and Adding Context to the Governor’s Economic Diversity Speech

Michigan Unemployment Woes Continue Despite Millions Spent on 'Economic Growth'

 MEGA Cliché 'Mistakes Were Made' Not Good Enough

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