Michigan House Republicans
Rep. Steele: Michigan needs an authentic economic development plan, not more corporate welfare
RELEASE|March 21, 2024
Contact: Donni Steele

State Rep. Donni Steele released a statement today regarding Michigan’s lack of a longstanding economic development strategic plan. Under the leadership of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the state has become reliant on corporate handouts to inflate a struggling business climate. Democrat leadership has repealed right-to-work protections, emboldened aggressive anti-business union tactics, and enacted energy mandates that threaten Michigan industry and the livelihood of residents.

“The only economic development strategy the governor has adopted is throwing heaps of taxpayer dollars at large corporations in a last-ditch effort to restore our struggling economy,” said Steele, R-Orion Township. “These policies don’t work. The state injects large corporations with a massive cashflow to make everything seem okay. Communities are promised new jobs, families buying houses, and enrolling more kids in local schools. Just when it all seems like its working, the struggling economic climate catches up, and the layoffs start, leaving broken communities left picking up the pieces.”

Last year, General Motors Co. announced they would lay off nearly 1,000 workers at the Lake Orion assembly plant. The layoffs came after GM decided to stop producing the Chevy Bolt EV and Bolt EUV, which were plagued by fire concerns from defective batteries.

“I was still serving on the township board when GM received MEDC money and promised us all these new jobs,” Steele said. “We secured housing developments, road funding and tax rebates; built parks and walking paths; and did everything possible to get our community ready for all these new workers and the expansion. It was great for a minute. But then cars stopped selling, and GM announced it would start laying people off. We cannot continue with failed policies that give people and communities this false hope. It doesn’t work and leaves communities like mine worse off than we were before the government got involved. Free markets create a healthy economy, not the government.”

Instead of strategically planning to support Michigan businesses, the governor proposed the heavily criticized High-wage Incentive for Regional Employment (HIRE) plan, widely considered Good Jobs 2.0. Despite totaling nearly $200 million in corporate welfare, no verified jobs were created from the original Good Jobs program. The Good Jobs 2.0 legislative package does not contain legislative oversight measures, substantive claw-back provisions, or other methods to increase transparency with taxpayer dollars.

A recent investigation found that 4 in 10 jobs claimed to have been created with taxpayer subsidies will pay below the state’s median annual base wage. Of the $335 million in taxpayer funds spent to subsidize job creation, $228 million went to create jobs that pay less than the median income.

“No business owner wants to invest in a state where they can’t afford to pay people a fair wage even after receiving taxpayer dollars,” Steele said. “Yet, the governor still sees corporate welfare as the solution to the shrinking population and widespread layoffs. At worst, Good Jobs 2.0 will create no new jobs and will fail. At best, it will still be another failure that creates some new, low-paying jobs that will attract no one. Michigan workers are leaving because they want to be able to support their families with one job. Creating more low paying jobs and just labeling them different or new isn’t going to bring people back.”

House Republicans have called for the state to develop a wholistic economic growth plan. This starts with ensuring Michigan workers have good-paying jobs that give them the freedom to support their families on one income. Instead of trying to bribe large corporations to move here, Republican representatives like Steele are focused on creating a healthy economic environment that will benefit workers, their families and businesses alike.


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