Sunday, October 31, 2010

Voters Overwhelmingly Support the Pure Michigan Campaign, Film Industry Incentives

In this day of a divided public, you'd be hard-pressed to find issues that enjoy such overwhelming voter support. Pure Michigan and our growing movie industry definitely make the cut.

Cue Tim Allen. The people have spoken: Pure Michigan = pure gold.

A Free Press-WXYZ-TV (Channel 7) poll shows that more than two-thirds -- 67% -- of Michiganders support continued funding for the tourism campaign touting the state's beautiful beaches, vast shorelines, urban entertainment and more. Only 25% were against it.

Funding for the campaign was cut in the state budget crunch this year, but it has become a much-discussed topic in this year's elections, with politicians saying they want to restore funding to a program that, by most accounts, has been a success.

One more time, let's go through the history here: Republicans in the Legislature have repeatedly insisted on eliminating Pure Michigan, obstructing any and all attempts to fund the campaign, and now Republicans are the ones talking about eliminating the film incentives. Besides Nancy Cassis' one-woman crusade against the industry, Rick Snyder's position has gone from "outright repeal" to a promise to "scale back" in an effort to avoid the appearance of taking an unpopular stand - but even reducing the credits may take us out of contention in the competition for permanent infrastructure, as studios will leave and take their jobs with them.

The voters will be displeased if we lose this business.

Meanwhile, the state's controversial film credit -- in which Michigan taxpayers pay to bring filmmakers to shoot and produce their movies in the state -- also enjoys widespread support, despite criticism that it has cost far more than it has brought in to date.

"Isn't that the whole concept of being in business, that you've got to spend money to make money?" said Detroit lawyer Ralph Richardson, a film credit supporter.

The poll shows that 58% of those surveyed support the film credit, while 33% oppose it. The rest said they didn't have an opinion.

The Senate Fiscal Agency itself admits that its "controversial" report is flawed, and that the credits are bringing us more business than is being reflected in their measurements of the state's bottom line. And can you put a price on the intangibles of keeping the young, creative people here, not to mention bringing all this good publicity (and free advertising) to Michigan?

The voters can see the benefits. Southern states with Republican governors can see the benefits. Why is it Michigan Republicans refuse to listen to the wishes of the majority of the voters?

So, that is something else to think about for this Tuesday: Not only have our Republicans tried to kill these popular programs that have brought us jobs and investment and visitors and excitement to the state - they aren't respecting your opinion on the matter either. Be sure and give that fact some consideration as you head to the polls.