News Story

Lonely Are The Michigan Democrats Who Oppose State Checks To Corporations

Taxpayer-funded cash subsidies a bipartisan thing, but Dem dissenters are an endangered species

Photo via Michigan House Democrats website.

Only one out of the 233 Democrats who have served in the Michigan Legislature since 2001 never voted to approve any of the taxpayer-funded business subsidy programs covered by a recent analysis of such votes.

Rose Mary Robinson, a third-term state representative from Detroit, is the only Democrat to oppose all the subsidy measures that came before her that were included in a voting record scorecard assembled by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. The scorecard covers 37 votes in both the state House and state Senate over 17 years on various proposals to authorize $6 billion in cash subsidies for businesses.

The average Democrat approved $1.62 billion in subsidies while the average Republican approved $1.47 billion worth.

Besides Robinson, three other Democrats approved less than 1 percent of business subsidy dollars that came before them for a vote. They were Yousef Rabhi of Ann Arbor, Stephanie Chang of Detroit and Jewell Jones of Inkster. All currently serve in the House.

Robinson did not respond to an email and a phone call requesting comment.

Robinson hasn’t voted against every business subsidy that has come her way, though. In March 2015 she opposed a bill that repealed Michigan’s film subsidy program, which had given $40 million to Disney in 2013.

Robinson later defended her “no” vote in comment on Facebook, responding to a Michigan Capitol Confidential piece titled “What Happened in Five Days.” She wrote: “I voted against this particular bill because it was a ploy to renegotiate with the film industry. My vote did not change the outcome of the passage of the bill. I was not going to be used. I put this reasoning in the journal to explain my vote. I have voted against film credits in the past. I am unequivocally against corporate welfare as my voting records since January 2012 demonstrates. I am not led by leadership or lobbyists. I attempt to represent the interests of the 4th state house district.”