An attempt by Democrats to force a Senate vote on a funding plan for the Pure Michigan tourism ad campaign failed this morning.
The Senate vote 20-15 against discharging from committee a House-passed bill to pay for the TV and radio ads with a $2.50 surcharge on rental cars at airports that would raise an estimated $20 million.
"This bill would create a new tax in this state," said Sen. Nancy Cassis, R-Novi.
This must get done today. The Legislature is leaving on vacation for two weeks after this session, and time has run out for a national summer ad buy. While negotiations are still going on, chances are the Republicans are going to severely damage our ability to attract new visitors to the state this year.
Tourism is the third biggest industry in Michigan, employing over 193,000 people, and for every dollar invested in promotion, $2.86 is returned to the state. According to a report from USA Today, 43 states add taxes or fees to car rentals, with many of them directing that revenue towards their tourism efforts. Even the "5 Most Tax-Friendly US Cities for Travelers" have car rental fees attached (HI, OR, and FL to be exact).
But those facts don't matter to the Senate Republicans. They would rather put Michigan jobs and tourism businesses in jeopardy, cut much-needed tourist revenue to the state, and take an award-winning advertising campaign off the air, rather than compromise on their stance to never invest in anything, ever.
Your Michigan GOP - voting to destroy the good things in Michigan, every chance they get.
UPDATE: The Center for Michigan has a very good story complete with an action alert with the names/numbers of the legislators to contact. Check it out. (h/t Rick Haglund)
UPDATE 2: The Senate won't budge, and we won't have a national campaign this year.
The Legislature has approved $9.5 million for the Pure Michigan tourism ad campaign, less than tourism advocates wanted and not enough to advertise Michigan as a choice vacation spot beyond the Midwest states and Ontario.
Sorry to all the businesses that rely on tourism dollars - this Senate has made it clear they will not invest in Michigan.