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Politics & Government

Michigan lawmakers changing direction on tax breaks during lame duck

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Lawmakers could be making changes to Governor Rick Snyder’s mission to scale back the use of tax incentives to attract jobs and investment. Two packages of bills offering incentives to businesses passed in the Senate Tuesday.

Proponents of the packages say they will spur economic growth by providing incentives like tax abatements and redirecting tax revenues toward economic development projects.

One package would create a program to allow the state to offer tax abatements to authorized businesses that create at least 250 or 500 new jobs, depending on what they pay the employees.

Republican Senator Jim Stamas is a bill sponsor. He says having both packages come up at once was not planned.

“I think actually they may be competing a little bit. Hopefully we get both done,” he said. “I think they’re both great tools that do two different things.”

In the past, Gov. Snyder has tried to scale back the use of tax breaks to attract employers.  

The other package is endorsed by Detroit businessman Dan Gilbert. It addresses so-called brownfields – properties that can be difficult and expensive to develop because of blight and contamination.

Republican bill sponsor Senator Ken Horn said,This is probably going to be the biggest urban development – re-development bill we’ve dealt with in the last few decades.”

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof said bills like these would keep Michigan competitive.  Meekhof said, "I think it's the acknowledgement that all the other states around us have tools and if we lay down our arms they're going to have bigger advantages."