Michigan Lawmakers Approve $1 Billion in New Corporate Subsidies

Their votes can be seen and tracked on a business subsidy scorecard

On their last day of voting on bills in 2021, members of the Michigan House and Senate approved $1 billion in new spending on selective, taxpayer-funded handouts to certain corporations. Their votes have been added to a business subsidy scorecard that has recorded individual lawmakers's votes on such handouts, going back to 2001.

Lawmakers often get pressured to spend taxpayer dollars on business subsidy programs even though these have been demonstrated to be ineffective at growing employment, unfair to companies that don’t recieve the same privilege, and expensive for taxpayers. But the lure of tantalizing headlines about business expansion has proved just too tempting for most politicians.

Reportedly, lawmakers were driven to this vote by headlines about Ford Motor Co.’s decision to build electric vehicle plants in Kentucky and Tennessee. After that announcement, some legislators here were also being approached by a small number of unnamed business executives who suggested subsidies would be needed to get them to locate facilities in this state. These elected officials aren’t saying who told them this, and some have even signed non-disclosure agreements that prohibit sharing any details.

It’s a contrast to the past three years, during which senators and representatives in the Michigan Legislature have rejected calls to authorize additional corporate subsidy programs. A comparatively modest $261 million in new corporate handouts have been approved by state legislators during the Whitmer administration, compared to $2.5 billion during Gov. Rick Snyder’s two terms. Over the past 20 years, lawmakers have approved $17.6 billion in business subsidies.

The latest $1 billion subsidy votes in the state House and Senate were bipartisan on both the “Yea” and “Nay” sides. The roll call votes have been added to the business subsidy scorecard, which shows how much lawmakers have approved, and who was on either side of each vote. See the results here.

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.