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Political roundup: Tax incentive plan tossed over rumored compromise; and is Line 5 worth the risk?

Jun 23, 2017

Governor Rick Snyder wanted a tax incentive package to lure big employers. A majority of Republicans and Democrats like the idea. But then, Speaker of the House Tom Leonard yanked the legislation because of a rumor the governor had cut a deal with Democrats for their support.

As they do most Fridays, Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow with Public Sector Consultants and the former Republican majority leader in state Senate, and Vicki Barnett, a former mayor of Farmington Hills and a former Democratic legislator, joined Stateside to discuss the happenings in Lansing.

“I think what we’re witnessing here is the tension in the Republican ranks over this whole concept of special incentives to lure these big business projects,” Sikkema said. “The Republicans that disparage it call it either corporate cronyism or corporate welfare. But that tension and debate has existed since the early days of [Governor] John Engler.”

Barnett says she thinks it's part of a bigger political problem for Leonard. She says Leonard may have pulled the bills out of concern Snyder had made an agreement with Democrats to veto would-be efforts to curb union protections and hamstring Democratic issues had legislation to do so been passed.

“I still think this was a bad move on the part of the Speaker,” Barnett said. “If this is really about good jobs, as the bill package is titled, shouldn’t the legislature be working for the people of the state of Michigan and providing opportunities for jobs … instead of worrying about petty politics behind the scenes?”

Sikkema and Barnett also discussed the state’s firing of an independent contractor that had been commissioned to do a risk-assessment of Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 oil and natural gas pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac.

“I think most Michigan citizens are going to say, whatever the risk, however infinitesimal it might be, it just isn’t worth it to have a pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac,” Sikkema said.

Listen to the entire conversation above.  

Ken Sikkema and Vicki Barnett join Stateside every Friday to break down the week’s political news

(Subscribe to the Stateside podcast on iTunes, Google Play, or with this RSS link)