Pure Michigan Scare Tactics

MEDC deploys 'Washington Monument syndrome'

The House Republicans recently released a proposal that would dedicate an extra $1 billion annually to roads by 2019. A chunk of the extra money comes from redirecting money from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to the state’s transportation infrastructure.

The MEDC is the state’s corporate welfare arm, which hands out select subsidies to corporations and oversees the film incentive program and the Pure Michigan advertising campaign.

Specifically, the House GOP plan would redirect $185 million of spending on “economic development” programs to road construction and maintenance. The MEDC does not want its funding cut and responded with what is known as the “Washington Monument syndrome.” As noted by MIRS:

Steve Arwood, chief executive officer of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), said the plan "severely limits the state's ability to have an economic development strategy moving forward."

"Furthermore, it threatens to eliminate the entire Pure Michigan tourism effort – an industry which supports 214,333 jobs in our state," he continued. 

Here is a description of the Washington Monument syndrome, via Wikipedia:

The Washington Monument syndrome, also known as the Mount Rushmore syndrome, or the firemen first principle, is a term used to describe the phenomenon of government agencies in the United States cutting the most visible or appreciated service provided by the government when faced with budget cuts. It has been used in reference to cuts in popular services such as national parks and libraries or to valued public employees such as teachers and firefighters. This is done to put pressure on the public and lawmakers to rescind budget cuts.

Sure enough, after the press release from the MEDC, the media reports soon followed. An MLive headline said, “Pure Michigan campaign could disappear under House Republican road plan.”

The Pure Michigan advertising campaign is not nearly as valuable as the MEDC says, but it is undoubtedly more popular among the general public than the other programs the entity oversees. There are many, many MEDC programs that do a very poor job of creating jobs and those are the ones that should see a loss of funding first.

Gideon D’Assandro, spokesman for House Speaker Kevin Cotter, had a good response to the agency’s Washington Monument response: "If the MEDC needs help identifying the right priorities in their own budget, we are more than happy to help walk them through it and show them how."

Tourism marketing through Pure Michigan cost only $21.7 million out of the total “economic development” budget of over $600 million in 2014. There is plenty of room to cut before this program would need to be affected.

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.