LANSING, Mich. — Lawmakers engaged in early morning discussions on Wednesday to work our the details of a $1 billion incentive package meant to attract General Motors' new battery manufacturing plant to Lansing.
Businesses leaders and lawmakers are pleased with the move but one Michigan think tank is calling it "corporate welfare."
“Eventually the manufacturing of automobiles will be where the batteries are so we’re not just bringing in new jobs here in Michigan but we’re also competing to keep our old jobs," said state Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr.
The incentive package would make it easier for GM to build its proposed $2.5 billion battery plant here in mid-Michigan.
"For instance, in Delta Township, they have to upgrade sewers and water, and, I mean, it's everything infrastructure, roads to be able to get to and from this plant," said state Rep. Angela Witwer.
The Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce says they're supportive and excited to see the positive changes a large manufacturing plant would provide for the area.
“There's going to be a lot of further economic development that's going to spur from being able to land one of these electric vehicle plants. So we're very excited about it," said Steve Japinga, the chamber's vice president of of public affairs.
But some don't see the incentive package as purely positive. Michael LaFaive with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy says incentives like these are unfair.
“These subsidy programs have been shown to be very ineffective, demonstrably ineffective, and expensive. Especially when you consider the opportunity cost, the other things we could spend the money on, and fundamentally unfair to those not lucky enough to receive fiscal favors from the legislature," he said.
To which Hertel and Witwer argue incentive deals like this one still benefit the whole community.
“There’s always the ideological positions of what should happen, but some of us have to function in the real world. And the real world is that these companies are going to choose to go to the places where these opportunities are," Hertel said. "Now we could say we’re going to stand on some moral high ground and say that it’s wrong, but that doesn’t actually create any jobs.”
Witwer agreed saying, "It’s a narrow look at our future because we have to be able to compete with other states or we won’t be able to attract the jobs."
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