The reader may be a bit overwhelmed by all of the data in the previous section. Unfortunately, the budget and account reporting is a naturally complex subject. Understanding any one line item can be a time-consuming project. This is particularly the case with the MEDC, which has become less transparent over time (see "The Trend Toward — and Away From — Transparency" later in this study).

Consider just how a member of the public or the Legislature might begin examining the inner workings of the MEDC. The screen shot in Graphic 3 shows the fiscal 2009 line-item appropriation for the Michigan Strategic Fund, which supplies the money for various MEDC projects.[30] This budget provides only nine line items to show where more than $146 million will be spent over this fiscal year.

The detail is hardly illuminating, and it underscores the problems that legislators, members of the media and the public can have in trying to better understand the MEDC. Additional information on each line item can be found in the "boilerplate" language of each bill, but it is hardly enough to make spending transparent.[*]

Graphic 3: Fiscal Year 2009 Michigan Strategic Fund (MEDC) Budget

Graphic 3: Fiscal Year 2009 Michigan Strategic Fund (MEDC) Budget - click to enlarge

Source: Public Act 261 of 2008.

In the paragraphs to follow, we attempt to shed light on each line item.


[*] For instance, tribal gaming revenue is a significant source of income for the MEDC, but it does not appear in the appropriations listed in Graphic 3. Tribal gaming revenues accrue directly to the Michigan Strategic Fund and are not appropriated by the Michigan Legislature.


[30] "Public Act 261 of 2008," (Michigan Legislature, 2008), 15, http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2007-2008/publicact/pdf/2008-PA-0261.pdf (accessed August 30, 2009).