News Story

Reading Between the Billboard Lines

According to MIRS Capitol Capsule (subscription required), the Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association (MLTA) is "hoping to send a clear message to lame duck legislative leaders — don't you leave town without funding Pure Michigan."

The private trade group wants public funds to advance their industry, and to this end they've launched a billboard campaign:

Businesses advocating for government funds is nothing new, but it is interesting that the MLTA will use private funds (donated by the Outdoor Advertising Association) in order to pressure lawmakers to get them taxpayer dollars for advertising. The industry goes the long route instead of just paying for the advertisements themselves, which they have refused to do.

As Michael LaFaive previously reported: "In the industry's own 2007-2011 strategic planning report, titled 'Michigan Tourism Strategic Plan,' the authors write:

There is absolutely no industry support for a broad-based industry self-assessment approach to generate sufficient monies to fund Travel Michigan. Last year, TICOM (Tourism Industry Coalition of Michigan) created a special task force to explore such an approach. Without exception, representatives from a variety of tourism industry segments indicated their members and/or Boards would strongly oppose such an approach."

The group also cites a study that says the Pure Michigan funding "pays off in the long run." But apparently the MLTA isn't confident enough about the long run to put up their own money. Instead, the group is simply attempting to rob taxpayer Peter to pay industry Paul.

A more honest billboard would read: "Hey Taxpayers…Fund Our Advertising Now!"

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.