News Story

$600 Million? $700 Million? State Officials Guess On Annual Corporate Giveaways

Secret taxpayer handouts go to unnamed big companies and developers

The state agencies in charge of Michigan’s business subsidy programs now project that selected business owners and developers will collect $717.6 million in tax breaks and subsidies from the state this year. That’s up $90.2 million from projections made just a year earlier.

To put the figure in perspective, the increase is almost as much as the $94.7 million budgeted for the entire state park system in the 2017-18 fiscal year.

Last year, the agencies projected they would deliver $627.4 million in benefits to selected business owners and developers in the 2017-18 fiscal year.

The increase consists mostly of cash and tax breaks awarded until 2011 under a now-suspended subsidy program called MEGA. These benefits alone are projected to cost the state treasury $601.6 million in the current fiscal year, a $62.3 million increase from the previously estimated $539.3 million. State officials claim that current law prohibits them from revealing which companies get the money or how much they get.

The most recent and previous year’s report from the Michigan Strategic Fund also includes estimates of how much the state plans to award in selective tax breaks and subsidies. Those benefits extend to solar cell and electric car battery makers, developers of brownfield and historic preservation property, owners of property in a farmland preservation program, film producers, and businesses and individuals in renaissance zones.