State lawmakers passed legislation to give big tax incentives to a handful of large employers Wednesday.
The bills would let approved companies keep all or part of the state income taxes withheld from their employees’ paychecks. The companies would have to meet job-creation targets and pay their workers average or above-average wages.
Governor Rick Snyder advocated strongly for the bills, but some members of his own party were not on board. Representative Martin Howrylak, R-Troy, opposed the bills. He said the incentives take from taxpayers and give to wealthy businesses.
“Effectively what we’re doing here is we’re using the government to take out of your pocket as an employee and hand it over to a select group of corporate interests,” he said.
But proponents say these bills will make Michigan attractive to big companies that need a “deal closer” to bring them to the state. They say this could create thousands of new jobs for Michigan.
“What this is going to do is create new jobs in the state of Michigan,” said Representative Brian Elder, D-Bay City. “No incentives get handed out at all unless they’re new jobs. And I think that’s a different approach than what’s worked in other states.”
The bills cleared the House with bipartisan majorities over bipartisan opposition.
The bills stalled three weeks ago. House Speaker Tom Leonard stopped the vote. He said the governor was making unacceptable deals with Democrats and unions.
After talks with the governor, Leonard put the bills up for a vote Wednesday, although he personally voted against them.
The bills are now headed to Governor Snyder’s desk for his signature. The governor issued a statement after the bills were passed.
“We are ensuring a future economy that is diversified and will stand on solid footing, with new jobs for Michiganders for the foreseeable future,” he said.