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Political Roundup: Republican holdouts on “Good Jobs” bill; issues at state child welfare agency

Jul 14, 2017

Governor Rick Snyder got what he wanted from the state legislature this week. Wednesday, state lawmakers passed a package of bills designed to give big tax incentives to large employers that create new jobs in Michigan.

The passage of the so-called “Good Jobs Tax Incentive” in the Michigan House of Representatives was a hard-fought victory for Snyder, who advocated strongly for the bills. After months of debate – and earlier passage in the Senate – the bills now head to Snyder’s desk. In Wednesday’s House vote, a bipartisan majority of legislators in favor of the bills won out over bipartisan opposition.  

Ken Sikkema, Senior Policy Fellow with Public Sector Consultants, and Vicki Barnett, a former mayor of Farmington Hills joined Stateside to discuss the bills – which would allow pre-approved companies to keep a portion or all of the state income taxes withheld from employees’ paychecks, if the companies meet hiring and wage targets.

Read the bills, SB 0242, SB 0243 and SB 244

Sikkema says the debate over tax incentives in 2017 is very similar to a vote on tax incentives during the administration of former Governor John Engler.

“And the result is exactly the same in the sense that a majority of republicans and a majority of Democrats agreed (with the tax incentives) and passed it,” Sikkema said. “The difference is the house leadership (and) their particular brand of conservative politics forced them to vote against it. In the past, the entire House Republican leadership voted for it.”

Snyder has said the tax incentives are the kinds of tools needed to attract business to Michigan. Numerous business tax breaks in the past have yielded mixed results. Barnett says Snyder came in as governor changing the tax rules and eliminating taxes for businesses, while the earned income tax credit, a tax break for low-income workers, was also eliminated.

“And now we see that [Snyder] has changed his tuned again and now wants [tax] incentives for businesses on top of all of the other tax breaks which clearly didn’t do the job that the governor wanted them to do,” Barnett said. “I’m not opposed to tax breaks; I just think that this is a wild swing for a governor that’s only been in office for seven years.”

“Personally I think the good jobs package is a good package, I think it’s needed. I wish it had been targeted toward industries that weren’t here yet instead of other existing industries,” Barnett said.

Sikkema and Barnett also discussed an article by The Lansing State Journal, alleging that state child welfare supervisors manipulated employee caseload data to make Michigan appear to be in compliance with a court order. The federal court order is the result of a lawsuit filed by an advocacy group after deaths of children in the state’s care.

Listen above to the entire conversation with Ken Sikkema and Vicky Barnett.