Michigan House Republicans
Steele: State economic development policy should prioritize taxpayers
RELEASE|April 22, 2024
Contact: Donni Steele

Sometimes, it feels like Michigan’s economic development strategy is managed by someone flying 30,000 feet in the air. Everything looks great when you’re coasting through the clouds. But no one that high up understands what’s happening on the ground. All they can see are the largest corporations and cities. Regular people and small businesses are nothing more than specks.

We need to land the plane and secure help for the people who need it the most.

In 2022, I served as treasurer of Orion Township when the Michigan Economic Development Cooperation flew in and promised General Motors Co. billions in taxpayer dollars. We did everything we could to prepare for incoming workers and their families. We secured housing developments, road funding and tax rebates. We built parks and walking paths. When the MEDC gave out that money, we all knew that more jobs meant more families in our community. But we had doubts. How would GM sustain those jobs once the money ran out?

The answer was they couldn’t.

Late last year, GM 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. And just like that, Lake Orion and a thousand families were the next victims of the state’s short-sighted corporate welfare.

The state injects large corporations with a massive cash flow to make everything seem okay. Communities are promised new jobs, families buying houses and more kids enrolled in local schools. When it all seems like it’s working, the struggling economic climate catches up and the layoffs start, leaving broken communities to pick up the pieces.

Regular people recognize how difficult things are right now. They’re living it. Grocery, electric and gas prices are all high. Imagine how they feel when they turn on the news and see that their state government can’t afford to give the middle class a tax cut but still finds a way to hand out billions to huge companies.

That’s the thing about governing from 30,000 feet; you have no idea how your policies affect people down on the ground or how much more impactful government can be when it stops picking winners and losers. The billions of dollars we dole out in taxpayer-funded handouts could be life-changing for everyday people and small businesses just trying to get by.

Families can’t support themselves on one middle-class job anymore.

Instead of serving taxpayer dollars to large corporations on a silver platter, we should be giving money back to the people who need it most.

Regular people work hard and pay their taxes. They deserve leaders who are boots on the ground and focused on their needs.

Michigan can’t afford to spend any more time with our heads in the clouds. We need an economic development policy highlighting regular people and the importance of small businesses in our communities.

Michigan House Republicans

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