The Michigan Senate Thursday passed an economic development package similar to one the House approved a day earlier.
State Sen. Adam Hollier (D-Detroit) said the state needs incentives like to bring in competitive manufacturing jobs.
“Because we are not competing with Indiana or Ohio. We’re not competing with Mexico or, you know, the south. We are competing with the entire world to make sure batteries are produced here, that semi-conductors are produced here,” Hollier said during floor debate ahead of Thursday’s vote.
The bills create a trio of new funds aimed at attracting new major business investment in the state. It’s unclear which businesses the funds could benefit or how much they could receive.
One of the bills’ sponsors, state Sen. Curtis VanderWall (R-Ludington) said he doesn’t have much information on current project negotiations.
“But we do know that GM has got some expansions that they’re looking at. And what this bill does is allows us to negotiate and make sure that we take care of Michigan businesses, businesses that are in the United States, the ones that we want to keep here and not leave our area,” he said.
But opponents like state Sen. Tom Barrett (R-Charlotte) said the state has tried attracting investment through incentive programs before and it didn’t work.
“Instead, we all bemoan the programs created by generations of legislators that proceeded us because it strips resources out of our budgets that we could use to fund priorities in the future,” Barrett said from the Senate floor.
Though the bills outline the framework for the funds’ creation, they do not mention a specific dollar amount that would go into them or a funding mechanism.
State Sen. Stephanie Chang said she wishes the bills focused more on education and housing as better ways of attracting business.
“I appreciate that we are having this conversation about economic development. But I do truly hope that we can talk about more comprehensive solutions for the future that reflect the priorities that our residents have been talking about,” Chang said during her no-vote explanation.
Thursday’s Senate vote puts the economic incentive program on pace to likely reach the governor’s desk before the end of the year.