Politicians Cannot Keep Up With Dynamic Economy

Subsidies for a handful, costs for everyone else

State lawmakers created new business subsidy programs last year. This new taxpayer spending will have little effect on the state economy and will not likely justify its costs. This is because politicians cannot keep up with the massive dynamic job loss and job creation that occurs outside of Lansing’s watch.

Michigan lost 199,000 jobs from April to June in 2017, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It also added 215,000 jobs over the same period. State “economic developers,” meanwhile, offered some public money from the Michigan Business Development Program to companies. The companies pledged to create 1,779 jobs and will be rewarded with up to $11.8 million in taxpayer dollars. Even if all of those announced jobs turn into real jobs — and state administrators have a bad record of delivering on those promises — administrators would be able to replace less than 1 percent of the jobs lost.

Lawmakers using residents’ tax dollars to deliver favors to select businesses is both unfair and ineffective. Instead, lawmakers should improve the business climate for everyone. That includes lowering barriers to entry by revisiting occupational licensing rules, lowering tax rates and saying “no” the next time a business, industry or other interest asks for favors.