Two votes in the state Senate on Wednesday may cause residents to question how seriously lawmakers are treating the need to restrain government spending. The first vote was on a resolution rejecting a 3 percent pay hike for unionized state government employees. The total cost of the raise is $77 million. To be fair, a majority of Senators did vote to reject the pay hike, but not enough to attain the two-thirds supermajority required on such measures. (See previous post on this site.)
The second measure would spend $9.5 million on tourism subsidies in the form of advertisements paid for by taxpayers. The main beneficiaries of and lobbyists for this subsidy are the owners of big resort hotels. Yet they have explicitly rejected spending their own money to pay for the ads, as reported by the Mackinac Center's Michael LaFaive.
Specifically, the state tourism industry's own 2007-2011 strategic planning report, titled "Michigan Tourism Strategic Plan," contains this:
There is absolutely no industry support for a broad-based industry self-assessment approach . . . Without exception, representatives from a variety of tourism industry segments indicated their members and/or Boards would strongly oppose such an approach.
Senate Bill 619 authorizing the tourism subsidy passed the Senate with just one dissenting vote, Sen. Mickey Switalski, D-Roseville. Perhaps not coincidentally, Switalski was also the lone Democrat who voted to reject the pay hike.