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Business, tourism advocates protest plan to pay for roads with MEDC funds

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

A House committee will take up bills tomorrow that pay for roads partly with funds from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

Doug Rothwell of Business Leaders for Michigan says the legislature should look elsewhere for the money.
He says economic development helps the state create and keep jobs.

"We've suggested corrections spending as perhaps one area (where the state could cut)," says Rothwell.  "We know our corrections spending is already above the national average, so that might be a place to look.  But we do believe that most of the new funding is going to have to come from new revenue."

New revenue, meaning, new taxes. And raising taxes is something many Republicans in the state legislature would like to avoid.

Tourism groups are also criticizing the bills because they could gut the MEDC's funding for the Pure Michigan campaign.

Dan Sippel of the West Michigan Tourist Association says the state needs good roads, but he says eliminating the Pure Michigan program would be short-sighted.

He says Pure Michigan attracts thousands of people to the state every year and creates jobs.

"The return on investment from the Pure Michigan campaign is $6.87 for every dollar spent," says Sippel.

Some Republicans suggest the MEDC could pay for the Pure Michigan campaign with money that remains in its budget.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.