Whitmer signs $5M/year QLine subsidy through 2039

Republicans, in large numbers, championed and supported the subsidy for little-used Detroit train

What started as Senate Bill 1223 — a $5 million per year subsidy for the QLine Detroit commuter train through 2039 — became Public Act 276 of 2022 Thursday, with Gov. Gretchen’s signature. 

The QLine has averaged about 2,500 riders per day in recent months, without those riders being charged a fare.

The bill was championed by Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, and supported in such great numbers in the Republican-led Legislature that it would take immediate effect.

The bill passed in the Michigan House on Nov. 29 and the Senate on Dec. 8, but it was only officially presented to the governor Tuesday, nearly three weeks later. She signed it Thursday, according to its official history.

The Senate Fiscal Agency analysis explains how the subsidy would work. The bill would:

Extend, from September 30, 2022, to September 30, 2039, the period of time in which an amount of up to $5.0 million must be distributed each fiscal year to the operator of a street railway system for the operations of a street railway system if the revenue in the Convention Facility Development Fund exceeds the amount already distributed in accordance with the Act.”

The bill’s history shows it was introduced on Nov. 10, just two days into the lame duck period after the 2022 election. Senate Bill 1223 went through no committee hearings. It sailed through Lansing. It was one last gift for Whitmer from the Republicans who used to run Lansing. Come January, Democrats will “hold all the gavels” in the legislature.

Five million dollars per year could buy every QLine rider a car. Instead, they get subsidized train fare.

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.