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Auchter's Art: Broken promises

John Auchter for Michigan Public

Last week the news broke that General Motors plans to move its global headquarters from the iconic Renaissance Center in Detroit to a newly developed building, also in Detroit. It's news, but not historic news. Decades ago when GM moved from its glory-days location in the New Center area of Detroit to the RenCen, it involved thousands of workers. The number this time is estimated to be 850.

Also news: Taxpayers are gonna get hosed in the process. The new building, which is on the site of what was the flagship Hudson's department store, was financed with tax breaks for the promise of 2,000 new jobs. The GM jobs coming to that building are not new — and certainly not a net gain for Detroit.

Taxpayers getting the short end of the stick is not unusual. But it does come at a time when Michiganders are particularly sensitive about highly touted deals in which we are likely going to get a diminished return on investment. Deals that Michigan made for big automotive battery projects just a couple of years ago are now being questioned and revisited.

The pendulum seems to be swinging toward the "no tax breaks" side of economic development. We'll see how long that lasts when other states go back to outbidding us with their tax breaks.

Editor's note: John Auchter is a freelance political cartoonist. His views are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Public, its management, or its license holder, the University of Michigan.

Since 1995 John has created Michigan-based editorial cartoons for the Grand Rapids Business Journal, the Grand Rapids Press, and MLive Newspapers. His cartoons are currently featured at MichiganPublic.org and are syndicated to newspapers through the Michigan Press Association. John is an active member of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. You can view an archive of his editorial work and other cartoons at Auchtoon.com.