Actually we don't know what they chanted, but MIRS News reported that that tourism-related business officials did demonstrate in front of the Capitol yesterday, protesting a proposed cut to the state's "Pure Michigan" advertising campaign.
Here's a concept for them: If ad campaigns like Pure Michigan are really such a success, why don't the hotels that benefit from this taxpayer largesse pay for it themselves? That the tourist industry's members refuse to do so speaks volumes about the program's real value.
In the industry's 2007-2011 strategic planning report, titled "Michigan Tourism Strategic Plan," the authors write:
There is absolutely no industry support for a broad-based industry self-assessment approach to generate sufficient monies to fund Travel Michigan. Last year, TICOM created a special task force to explore such an approach. Without exception, representatives from a variety of tourism industry segments indicated their members and/or Boards would strongly oppose such an approach.
In other words, there is no support from the beneficiaries of this spending to pay for it with their own money. Their "revealed preference" suggests that they know it's not worth the cost. If that's true for the beneficiaries, then it's also true for taxpayers footing the bill.
Actually, that should be the future taxpayers footing the bill: This program is paid for at least in part with borrowed money. Last year, 37 senators and 86 House members voted to borrow $60 million against future tobacco lawsuit revenue to prop up this subsidy and related campaigns for another 18 months.
Incidentally, the annual debt service on this borrowing, plus $800 million previously borrowed against this revenue to pay for the "21st Jobs Fund," and for pure Washington-style borrow-and-spend in 2007, amounts to around half of the $160 million cut to the state's "Promise Grant" college scholarship program that's also on the table this week, which is also funded with tobacco lawsuit money.