Lawmaker Says Special Tax Favors Are 'Cronyism'
If a business is in need of a tax break, the quickest route may be the local politician.
State Rep. Justin Amash, R-Kentwood, recently called out his colleagues for submitting bills that created tax advantages for single businesses.
Amash called attention to Senate Bill 500, sponsored by State Sen. Tony Stamas, R-Midland. That bill was tailored to create a tax break for an electronics building in Gaylord. An expanded version was passed by the House and Senate.
Stamas didn't return an e-mail or messages left with his staff.
"Essentially, it's just cronyism," Amash said. "It's an abuse of legislative power. We are not supposed to be passing bills that help one person or one company at the expense of everyone else."
But it's not an uncommon occurrence, according to Michiganvotes.org.
For example, Rep. Bettie Scott, D-Detroit, introduced House Bill 6093, which would authorize a tax credit for a project. Many times in the bills, the project is not named, but the criteria is very specific. For instance, Scott's bill says the credit would work "for the construction of a new facility if the area in which the new facility is located is designated as a neighborhood enterprise zone by the governing body of the local governmental unit in September 2001 and if the building permit is issued for that new facility on March 3, 2003."
Working for tax breaks for individuals is a bipartisan effort, says one expert.
"Both parties have abandoned any pretense that the growing state corporate welfare empire doesn't include funneling favors to the owners of particular firms," said Jack McHugh, senior legislative analyst at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
Senate Bill 500 was approved on a vote of 36-1 in the Michigan Senate and 90-16 in the Michigan House. The Michiganvotes.org roll call vote for the bill is noted below.
Contact information for all lawmakers is available at www.MichCapCon.com/9313.
Lawmakers voting IN FAVOR OF A SPECIAL TAX BREAK for a company in Gaylord:
HOUSE REPUBLICANS (28)
SENATE REPUBLICANS (20)
HOUSE DEMOCRATS (62)
SENATE DEMOCRATS (16)
Lawmakers voting AGAINST A SPECIAL TAX BREAK for a company in Gaylord:
HOUSE REPUBLICANS (14)
SENATE REPUBLICANS (ONE)
HOUSE DEMOCRATS (2)
SENATE DEMOCRATS (NONE)
Lawmakers who DID NOT VOTE:
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Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.