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Posted on Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 10:55 a.m.

How public sentiment shifted against film incentives (and what Rick Snyder can learn from it)

By Nathan Bomey

Public sentiment dictates political outcomes more than any other factor.

That’s what Gov. Rick Snyder needs to remember if he wants to get anything close to his proposed budget passed by the Michigan Legislature.

Rick Snyder at rally.jpg

It might be time for Snyder to return to the town hall forums he favored during the campaign to explain his budget proposal to voters.

Ryan Stanton |

If he can shift public sentiment, he can overcome the diverse amalgam of political groups that have amassed to destroy his proposals to structurally eliminate a $1.5 billion deficit. Single-handedly bending public sentiment, however, is among the most challenging feats for a politician.

It’s exceedingly rare. People believe what they believe — and most politicians maneuver their policies into voters’ comfort zone.

There are signs, however, that Snyder’s budget proposal — initially opposed by schools, universities, cities, unions, seniors, Jeff Daniels and the entirety of Hollywood — is gaining steam.

A telling example is the shift in public opinion over the value of the state’s film industry tax incentives, which provide a cash rebate of up to 42 percent of a production company’s spending in Michigan. Snyder wants to reduce the unlimited incentives to a capped pool of $25 million a year, allowing existing productions to keep their tax credits but essentially eliminating the program in the future, at least as we’ve come to know it.

That touched off a firestorm of criticism. Daniels lambasted the governor for having the audacity to spotlight the fiscal insanity of giving the film industry a blank check every year, and other supporters said the proposal would drive young people out of the state. (As if they’re not leaving already.)

And they did so believing that public opinion was in their favor. In October, a poll by EPIC-MRA found that 58 percent of Michigan voters supported the incentives, while 33 percent opposed the incentives. A huge majority.

However, public sentiment is turning against the film incentives. In a new poll conducted by EPIC-MRA and published Sunday by the Detroit Free Press, 46 percent of Michigan voters oppose the incentives, while 41 percent support them.

In Hollywood, that’s what they call a death blow.

So, public sentiment is shifting against the film incentives, which, as currently designed, would continue to pay out unlimited cash to the film industry even if Hollywood producers decided to make every single movie in Michigan going forward.

Yet, the film industry is but a small piece of Snyder’s budget proposal.

The budget truly hinges on Snyder’s ability to convince the Legislature to eliminate tax exemptions for pension holders, cut business taxes by $1.8 billion and enact a litany of cuts for schools, universities and cities.

It’s an uphill battle for Snyder. Way uphill. EPIC-MRA also found that voters oppose his pension tax proposal by a margin of 53 percent to 41 percent.

With the film incentives, Snyder shifted public sentiment by exposing the incentives’ fiscal irresponsibility. Now, however, he needs to find a way to convince voters that the pension tax is necessary to pay for business tax cuts that are similarly needed.

It’s far from clear whether that’s possible.

But if it is possible for Snyder to get something similar to his budget passed, here's what he has to do:

1. Announce a series of public talks — preferably at retirement homes or senior centers — to explain to pension holders why you believe their exemption must be eliminated. Explain how Michigan is at a disadvantage because most states and the federal government tax pensions — and that a state without a pension tax will be practically bankrupt as demographic shifts turn our population grayer. Portray the pension tax as a way for senior citizens to invest in a structurally sound state government so that their children and grandchildren have a better foundation on which to build their lives. Remind seniors that Medicare reimbursement rates would remain stable under your budget, a surprising piece of the proposal that benefits seniors indirectly.

2. Make the case that business tax cuts are long overdue and not, in fact, a generous giveaway to your business buddies. Snyder is in danger of being branded as a politician who cares more about businesses than individuals. But anyone who knows anything about the Michigan Business Tax — on both sides of the political aisle — knows that the MBT is a joke. That, however, is not enough. Snyder needs to describe why he believes the MBT must go and he must prove that business tax cuts will create jobs, an argument that has understandably drawn skepticism.

3. While you’re at it, scale back the business tax cuts. Snyder wants to replace the MBT with a flat 6 percent tax on corporate income that would not hit many of Michigan’s small businesses. Make it 6.5 percent or 7 percent and brand it as a concession. Here’s betting that this has been part of the plan all along.

4. Propose that state Legislators adopt legislation reducing health care benefits for themselves. This is a populist proposal that former state Rep. Pam Byrnes, D-Lyndon Township, tried to pursue while she was still in office. It’s not enough for Snyder to say he’ll accept a $1 salary as part of his plan for “shared sacrifice.” A proposal such as this would make it much easier to convince unions to give up the $180 million in concessions Snyder is seeking — which they should probably view as a heavenly gift in comparison with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s collective bargaining assault.

If voters believe that everyone is sacrificing — even the politicians — they’ll be more willing to get on board with Snyder’s agenda.

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.



Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 1:24 a.m.

Sorry Mellessia, you need to reread your economics books. For every $ the state spends, they took it for someone thru taxes or fees. Every study on film incentives, says for every $1 spent on tax incentives the state gets back $.10 in tax revenues. Say Hi to governer Cumo for us.

Melissa Bayer

Wed, Mar 9, 2011 : 5:34 p.m.

For every dollar the state spends, six dollars goes into the economy. I am 24-years-old and a graduate of the film program at Grand Valley. I was ready to move to New York City, but I stayed in Michigan because of the tax incentives and have been working right out of college. I live in Grand Rapids and bought my first home at only 23-years-old. Certainly that is an example of young people staying in Michigan and money going back into the economy, but how is the state supposed to know that's because of the film incentives? They can't! The camera and lenses I purchased at a local camera shop in Warren? The acting classes I've paid for at local studios in Ferndale, Grand Rapids, and Holland? The oil changes / car repairs at a local shop in Sterling Heights from driving across the state every week? And I'm not the only one who's invested in their career in MICHIGAN.

Joseph Scott Anthony

Wed, Mar 9, 2011 : 1:26 a.m.

The film incentives are GOOD for Michigan. Numerous people have moved back to Michigan, the young and creative have stayed in Michigan. This is an industry that can change the IMAGE of Michigan to the outside world. Moving us past the perception we are autos and parking lots. The type of POSITIVE press generated could not be had any other way. It does not benefit fat cats. They are going to get paid the same whether it's here, Canada or Louisiana. BUT Michigan workers, businesses and our local economy GETS PAID if it's here. These are thousands of jobs with an average pay of $64,000+. No other industry will bring these type of skilled and creative jobs so quickly, or have the immediate positive impact. Remember, Clint Eastwood will get paid whether it's here or not. I will not. (Unless I'm forced to move.)

Ed Kimball

Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 1:24 p.m.

Here's what I don't understand about Snyder's proposal: We start out with a $1.4 billion deficit. He then wants to reduce business taxes by $1.8 billion per year. That means that we now have to take $3.2 billion away from schools, cities, public safety workers and seniors. Why not set the rate for the new business tax so that it brings in the same amount of revenue as the old tax, but in a simpler and, hopefully, fairer way? Then we can continue to provide more of the services that the people of Michigan need and want. BTW, I am a senior, but I support the change to tax pensions. I think it is fairer to all citizens. I am willing to share the sacrifices? Why aren't business owners willing to do the same?


Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 6:51 p.m.

Ed, please see my above post on the MBT. Currently small businesses are taxed twice. Large corporations will be taxed more under Gov. Snyder's plan. If you hae a fairer alternatve than his proposal (that also eliminates the MBT) then please suggest it to your representative!


Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 12:40 p.m.

@ Mike Martin Really? when do I get my cost of living check? I retired over 2 years ago from Ford Motor Company and have seen no increase. In fact, the last I looked the State of Michigan IS taking taxes from my check already. Oh, by the way, I also have to apply for Social Security and Medicare at age 62. No choice there, they reduce my Ford Pension by the amount that I receive from Social Security. Fixed Income? you bet!


Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 5:40 a.m.

Hey! I have an idea! Since most of us only know manufacturing. Let's do this. Let's give any manufacturer (john deere, caterpillar, big 3, euro and asian automakers 42 cents on every dollar they spend in Michigan! It's the same credit. We will have thousands of workers, who have to go through a drug screen; won't be 1099; don't have any business right offs- It would be perfect! The state would recoup way more money with this ponzi scheme!

Seasoned Cit

Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 5:11 a.m.

All the folks crying we'll loose the jobs... need to look at what the State has been paying out.. and what has been coming in. Sure some folks got jobs and caterers sell lots of food.. but the bottom line is that the State is paying big bucks for those jobs which often are temporary anyways... Mitch Album who's screaming now.... didn't he make is last movie in Canada ??? Wouldn't Michigan subsidize him enough ?

Joseph Scott Anthony

Wed, Mar 9, 2011 : 1:57 a.m.

These are good paying skilled, creative jobs paying on average $64,000. Mitch Albom does get to decide where his movies are made. The studios/investors decide. His last movie was prior to the film incentive. This site list his credits/films <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> The incentive does not benefit Mitch Albom one penny. He is paid exactly the same no matter where the film is made. He is not part of the production costs incentives are given for.


Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 3:41 a.m.

I guess when a newspaper that existed for years folds and is replaced by some Internet wannabee...We can expect unethical writers who boldly show their support for the republican Nerd Gov.? I suggest, institute a similar deletion for articles/writers who give their biased blueprint to manipulate the public to politicians. I always suspected was strongly bias for the Gov, due to the quickness of deleting negative comments about him....but now this is proof of this suspected bias. I hardly expect to transfer Mr. Bomey to traffic news or fire him because that would be preserving some sense of ethics....but maybe they should send his resume and this article as an example of his cleverness to manipulate. It would also be unthinkable that Mr. Bomey would do the right thing and apology for his ethical lapse, resign and then send his resume to Snyder in order to be paid officially for his cleverness on his behalf. To print my comment might also be amazing for such an ethical website.

Monica R-W

Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 3:36 a.m.

Since this column has a little link at the top of the article stating 'opinion', I will leave to judgement that 'opinion' is what it is. In the same aspect, I question why would this over the top bias article at best, be allowed past an editors eye-sockets on this news site. Guess I will continue to wonder....


Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 3:30 a.m.

I agree and applaud Snyder for the common sense to end this tax subsidy we currently have for our money grubbing and greedy seniors . What gives them the right to ask us poor working folks to pay their way ? Isn't it enough we pay their Medicare and endless other expenses? Just look around at all the things &quot; seniors&quot; get for practially nothing. And we are paying their share of taxes too. Give me a break.


Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 1:24 a.m.

For those interested, here is why the MBT is an issue: Jenny Z owns a small business incorporated as an LLC. She employees 10 people who all pay federal and state income taxes. She provides healthcare and retirements plans for her employees. She pays sales taxes, use taxes, and personal property taxes. The gross receipts pay the above overhead and the rest is net profit. That profit is passed to her personal taxes where it is taxed at the federal and state levels. The MBT then looks at her gross receipts and taxes her again. She has already paid her share of taxes on the business profit, why does it make sense to place a double-taxation upon her? Gov. Snyder's proposal is tax relief and elimination of double-taxation.

Mike Martin

Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 9:50 p.m.

@Cash I have no pension plan. Like many people in this nation I fund my own IRA. When I retire I will pay taxes on my IRA as I draw from it. Why is it fair that I have to pay tax on that money when someone with a different style of retirement, a pension, does not?

Rob Pollard

Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 9:44 p.m.

Did you even look at how the question was asked? From the poll, &quot;Michigan taxpayers have spent $96 million to underwrite the cost of films and other productions here since 2008. The state pays up to 42 percent of the costs of production. Do you think that it's a good use of taxpayer money to help create a new industry, or, do you think it's a bad use and would be better spend on other needs?&quot; <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Two things: 1) The first question biases the respondent towards a negative response. Only talks of what was &quot;spent&quot; but nothing of what was gained. This should have been left out, as the second part stands on its own. 2) This is a fair question (though you could quibble with the &quot;up to 42%&quot; as it's more nuanced than that). However, even the supporters of the credit (e.g., Daniels, Albom) have argued that they agree changing the incentive (such as a cap of $100 million, not $25 million) or a slightly lower rate (e.g., one of Albom's columns mentions support for film makers Mike Binders proposal to lower the top rate to either 30 or 35%). Snyder went from &quot;full go&quot; to &quot;full stop&quot; with his proposal. In short, a fairer question would have been something along the lines of: 1) keep it as-is, 2) kill it (which is the de facto result of Snyder's proposal) or 3) modify it so it is attractive (e.g., Top 5 in the nation), but not as attractive as currently constituted. THAT would have told us something.


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 9:38 p.m.

90% of senior citizens vote??? Bunk. Also, they don't get to vote on this though they may get cranky and &quot;send a message&quot; to their legislators in the next election and it will swing back the other way again. So, seniors want their services, but they don't want to pay for them so who should pay for them? I thought part of the goal was to attract/keep younger workers in the state. Why on earth would young people want to work in Michigan if many of their tax dollars will be going to support services for people who jolly well can, (yes most can) pay for it but don't want to on principle?

Mike Martin

Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 9:37 p.m.

@Cash- You just made my argument. Instead of making prudent fiscal decisions based on analysis of the budget politicians make decisions based on who is voting. So, a poor single 27yo mother from Detroit is underrepresented because old people vote and her demographic doesn't. That is a ridiculous way to make policy. I missed your response about why my neighbor with the new pool should be exempted from state tax while the old guy working at the hardware store pays state tax on his $8.50 an hour.


Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 1:07 a.m.

johnnyA2: I put it to you that most people never realized their pensions would not be taxed. Your point is as impossible to prove as mine is to disprove. Please find a better argument.


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 11:45 p.m.

Mike, It is simple. When agreeing to your compensation package as a worker, you do it based on NOT being taxed on your pension. Many people took salaries LOWER than they would have taken otherwise. Doing this is a classic bait and switch. Tell them one thing, then change the rules mid-stream. If you want to say all NEW AND FUTURE pension programs started will be taxed, then so be it. That is NOT what is being offered.

Mike Martin

Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 10:01 p.m.

The question was why pensions should be excluded and that isn't an answer. A graduated tax is a different, and reasonable issue. But why exclude the pension? You don't seem to have an answer for that except for anecdotal statements that people in Heartland are hurting and I don't know any retirees.


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 9:38 p.m.

If you want total fairness, a graduated tax is required. The rich would pay the highest rate.

Mike Martin

Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 9:32 p.m.

Thank you Nathan. Here you go &quot;Cash&quot; ; &quot; Documents from the Treasury Department estimating how various classes of taxpayers would be treated under Snyder's proposal show that most retirees with modest pensions would not pay income taxes.&quot;

Marshall Applewhite

Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 10:49 p.m.

How many times does allow one person to post within a single thread? Surely there must be a limit to this drivel......

Mike Martin

Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 10:07 p.m.

Again, you support what I said earlier. You have no idea how the numbers will play out. Just a cynical guess. And still no reason for why the pension is tax exempt when other forms of income are not. Fair? Hmm, doesn't sound fair to me.


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 9:36 p.m.

Modest. Uh huh...that could be just like you saying that most retirees are affluent! It would be laughable if so many elderly weren't in such bad shape.


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 9:29 p.m.

As far as the elderly being taxed by the state .....two things will prevent it. I will only mention one....not the other one. 90% of senior citizens vote. Nuff said.

Nathan Bomey

Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 9:26 p.m.

Looks like there's some disagreement over how Snyder's pension tax proposal would play out. Here's an analysis by the nonpartisan Michigan Truth Squad, a division of the Center for Michigan, on the pension tax proposal: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

Wolf's Bane

Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 4 p.m.

You're in the river in Egypt.


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 9:35 p.m.

Mr Bomey, After reading your article do you think you have credibility with the majority here? Not.

Mike Martin

Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 9:23 p.m.

@ andys Exactly. I am not arguing that impoverished people should skip heating the house to pay the taxes. As you point out many elderly are working poor who can't afford to retire. Why should they pay their state income tax when my neighbor, retired as a mid level executive at GM, just put in an in ground pool and has a pension that is not subject to tax? That makes no sense to me.


Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 2:18 a.m.

In ground pool is the standard we use to judge the wealth of a retiree?


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 9:21 p.m.

What you all are not used to is somebody doing what they said they were going to do when they ran for office. This is pretty much, down the line, the plan he has been talking about since he decided to run. No mystery. If you voted for Rick, and you are now up in arms because of his plan, then perhaps you will do a bit more research before you go to the polls next time.


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 9:15 p.m.

How is it fair that a retired 65 year old person pays no tax on their pension, but a 65 year old person next door that has no pension and works to make the same amount is 100% taxable? Is not the person with no pension and having to work, in a worse position, but no one cares about that inequity? Many retirees are struggling, but many are quite prosperous, and can afford to pay their fair share. Lots of hyperbole!

Mike Martin

Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 9:13 p.m.

@cash In all your excitement you seem to keep missing the point. Yes, baby boomers are the most affluent generation in the history of the US. I would assume you would agree that the most affluent should participate in paying taxes. So, I said - funding going forward should include their pensions. And, the pensions of anyone else that can afford it. As well as the incomes of anyone that can afford it. I also wrote that those who can not afford it should be excluded. You think I haven't been exposed to retirees? My neighborhood is full of them. And they live well. Perhaps you are surrounded by poor retirees and I am not suggesting they pay axes rather than heat the home. That's ridiculous. Just as excluding that demographic based on age (and propensity to vote frankly) is ridiculous. 3rd time - Those who can afford it from all demographics should pay. I won't waste the reader's time repeating that a 4th time here.


Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 2:17 a.m.

WRong again, Mike. It's my parents generation, the Greatest Generation, are the ones who are well off. Most so called Baby Boomers have yet to retire and most won't because they can't afford to.


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 8:56 p.m.

Baby boomers? Affluent? You may not assume that baby boomers are retired. My mother is a retiree of the state system and gets NO COLA. People in their late 60s, their 70s and 80s and 90s are retirees...NOT baby boomers. baby boomers for the most part are still working. Thus, retirees are FAR from affluent. You are absolutely misinformed. But this subject has been beaten to death on this site multiple times. And the case goes in favor of the elderly every time.

Wolf's Bane

Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 8:49 p.m.

To quote Nathan Bomey:&quot;In Hollywood, that's what they call a death blow.&quot; Who are you? Some Indiana Jones wannabee? Your article is full of holes and just because you can rattle off statistics doesn't mean that Snyder has successfully swayed public opinion, as the unscientific poll of responses suggests? My goodness.


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 8:57 p.m.

Never step in front of the Snyder Express as it rolls through Ann!

Mike Martin

Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 8:46 p.m.

@cash To begin with ALL retirees of the big three have COLA adjustments as do all retirees of the state and local municipalities. And that is huge proportion of Michigan's retired population. Secondly, as I noted before, the baby boomers are without question the most affluent generation in the US. And, there is a good chance that they are the historic peak in the US. So, as the state plans to fund going forward why should they be excluded from paying taxes on pensions? As, I noted in my comment, the lowest 20% of the income bracket do not pay Federal taxes nor should people who are living hand to mouth be subject to a tax on pensions - that's not the point. There isn't even final plan out there to tax pensions, so you have no idea at what level the tax would be applied. This sort of exaggerated statement - &quot;This isn't about a WHIM, for a lot of elderly folks this is life and death.&quot; adds a lot of emotion to the discourse but misses the point. There is not reason to exclude those who can afford to be part of the solution and at the same time those that don't have the means should be excluded - from any demographic. Retirement status is arbitrary.


Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 12:38 p.m.

Really? when do I get my cost of living check? I retired over 2 years ago from Ford Motor Company and have seen no increase. In fact, the last I looked the State of Michigan IS taking taxes from my check already. Oh, by the way, I also have to apply for Social Security and Medicare at age 62. No choice there, they reduce my Ford Pension by the amount that I receive from Social Security. Fixed Income? you bet!


Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 2:16 a.m.

Wrong MIke. There is no COLA or annual increase for City of Ann Arbor retirees.


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 8:34 p.m.

I started reading this article, thinking it was a news article. Shortly into it I thought, no this must be an editorial and went back to the top to see if it stated thus. Alas, the writer clearly doesn't know the difference between op/ed and news pages. I agree with Lewanster and Cash. Bomey needs to go back to journalism school and learn the difference and the inappropriateness of trying to pawn off his ideas as 'news'.

Yeah buddy

Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 8:40 p.m.

At the top of the page it clearly states that this is an opinion piece about business.

Nathan Bomey

Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 8:39 p.m.

@Rouzer, the headline starts with &quot;column&quot; to indicate that this story is not meant to be a straight news piece.


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 8:24 p.m.

Blimey, mates! Bomey is balmy!

John B.

Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 8:52 p.m.

I think you mean 'barmy.'


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 8:28 p.m.

While it lasts, let me just say, possibly the best post ever.


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 7:59 p.m.

Mike Martin, &quot;One can come up with such anecdotal examples in any demographic- single moms, unemployed and not finding work, etc.&quot; Yes one can. Remember Snyder is increasing the tax o n the working poor as well as the elderly. But that said, the folks you mentioned have a chance to improve their life. They can get work. Their circumstance can improve. For the elderly, it is downhill run. Just go to Heartland and ask. Better yet, just walk in the door and smell what old age really means. The rosy picture you paint, will go away quickly.


Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 1:32 a.m.

You are acting as if half the seniors in Michigan reside at Heartland. Go to Saline Memory care and see how some well heeled seniors with Alzheimer's live in retirement. My ex in laws retired in Northern Mi ( Harbor Springs) and live large, both have nice auto pensions and social security. My father is 78 years old and still works full time because he loves his job. When ( if ever) he retires he will have a big fat pension and I believe he should get taxed on it. How's that for not being a hypocrite ? I stand to gain some inheritance and having it taxed will reduce whatever I have coming but it is the right thing to do !


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 7:58 p.m.

Does Nathan work for the Governor ? Was this some sort of press release ?

average joe

Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 1:30 a.m.

Nathan is just offering scenarios that need to happen for the governor to get his budget proposal passed. He also perhaps realizes that this governor is who we have now, along with a tremendous amount of red ink, &amp; maybe we all need to just take a break from beating anyone up who's ideas don't mesh with ours.

Wolf's Bane

Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 8:49 p.m.

Nathan fancies himself informed. After all, he gets his information directly from the API.


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 7:56 p.m.

Mike Martin, Who has a retirement with a COLA clause? No one I know. Remember there are people who are in their 80s and have a retirement they got 18 years ago that at the time was sufficient. They had no idea they'd live this long. So the $20,000 a year they get now barely pays utilities and meds. You need to visit some real retired folks. Good grief.


Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 2:14 a.m.

Not this year


Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 12:59 a.m.

Social security benefits are adjusted annually for inflation.


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 7:53 p.m.

Affluent? Bwahhaa!!!! The average retiree makes $39,000, before taxes. Remember they pay taxes on federal income tax, sales tax, auto registrations and drivers license, and property tax. In that average are a lot of people who make 6 legislative retirees, but it includes a lot of people making under $20,000. If that is affluent to you, fine. it sure as heck isn't affluent here as the average DTE bill in Michigan takes 10% of the gross income alone! Get real.


Wed, Mar 9, 2011 : 11:49 p.m.

Yes!! Tell it like it is Cash..


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 8:38 p.m.

You are conveniently ignoring that the &quot;average retiree&quot; you are describing making $39,000 would not pay extra taxes under the plan in the Snyder budget. Some retirees are hit harder, no doubt, but not the ones you are describing.

Mike Martin

Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 7:47 p.m.

@ Cash The fact is that retirees as a group are some of the most affluent people in our state. And the relative affluence of retirees is poised to increase as the wealthiest generation in America is now starting to retire- baby boomers. Those who are at a very low level of income and concerned about utility bills are not going to be taxed on their small incomes just the same way that people in the lowest income brackets do not pay federal taxes. A pensioner who worked for the auto companies (blue or white collar) is not in the dire economic strait that you describe. And, there is no reason he/she should not participate in dealing with the state's economic situation the way the rest of us do. Additionally, where does this idea come from that a retiree collecting pension benefits is on a fixed income while all their expenses are going up? Most pensions have a cost of living adjustment and many have an adjustment that exceeds the recent year's CPI. This image of the elderly pensioner freezing in house with no ability to pay for food off heat is misleading. One can come up with such anecdotal examples in any demographic- single moms, unemployed and not finding work, etc. Taxing pensions is a reasonable piece of the puzzle.


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 7:12 p.m.

I think the film incentives are a great idea. We should extend the program to other industries and there would be so many jobs people would be moving to Michigan. A good place to start is with tourism. Anyone from another state who spends more than three days in Michigan could submit receipts for lodging, food, gas, sports tickets, etc. and get a check for 40% of what they spent.

P Beal

Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 12:24 p.m.

Doesn't that leave us still with 60% net plus whatever was left out of your calculation?


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 6:57 p.m.

I have asked this before and I'll ask again. HOw does giving GM a 15 year tax break differ then these incentives? GM is only supporting a few hundred jobs. How is it different feeding the fat cats of Michigan? This program was created with bipartisan support are you saying that all went away because we have a new Governor? I think the new Gov. needs to rethink his wealth distribution. The elderly, poor and middle class can not afford him. He's begging for one term.

average joe

Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 7:05 p.m.

GM is only supporting a few hundred jobs????

Wolf's Bane

Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 6:43 p.m.

Snyder is misguided.

Wolf's Bane

Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 8:51 p.m.

Just Mr. Greed and Mr. Fatcat.


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 8:05 p.m.

The scary part is who is guiding him?


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 6:43 p.m.

&quot;Snyder is in danger of being branded as a politician who cares more about businesses than individuals.&quot; Nathan, do you think that might be because he's reducing taxes on businesses while increasing them on individuals? Just a guess.

Wolf's Bane

Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 6:42 p.m.

&quot;Can't afford incentives?&quot; What? What are we going to do without them? Does anyone think Hollywood or the fil industry as a whole will simply say: &quot;Oh, we'll pay then for filming and post production anyways?&quot; No, they won't, they'll go to Indiana. Tanks Ricky.


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 6:24 p.m.

Mr Bomey, For the past few months you have pushed the Snyder agenda at this site as an employee of Ann Now you post a campaign agenda for him? Unbelievable. Let me suggest that Snyder go to Heartland or another elder care facility or to a hospice place and tell the elderly who are suffering and dying that he is going to tax them at a 100% + increase in their tax. Tell them as suffer in their beds often unaware from a stroke or dementia that it's shared sacrifice. Frankly the man would be NUTS to go near ANY retirement community right now, especially as they gather signatures for his recall. I cannot believe you don't GET that. Fighting for the film industry was something people fought for because they like the industry and thought it had a future here. Understand this.......the opposition of the elderly to have their retirement taxed in their late years of life is one of life and death. Their income is frozen for the rest of their days. Is your utility bill frozen? Is your food bill frozen? Is your gas bill frozen? Is your electric bill frozen? Are your health care premiums frozen? Do you have any idea how much it cost an elderly person for Medicare each month? a prescription insurance bill? a gap insurance? Is your medicine bill frozen? Are property taxes frozen? Don't you get it? The elderly cannot afford another dime, let alone to hand it over to big business. This isn't about a WHIM, for a lot of elderly folks this is life and death.


Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 5:56 a.m.

Mr. Cash, I suppose Mr. Snyder could do &quot;the typical politician solution&quot; and just raise medicare deductibles 5 percent (and blame D.C. like most sorry butt politicians). Sir, please don't precede to be concerned about a ederly person, who has demential, as a victim of Gov. Snyder. Watching a grandmother pass away with this illness, I never saw her exhibit a complaint of the political genre. She was taken care of by private insurance and US-WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING. Our demographic is changing. We have too many liabilities, and not enough assets. I guess it is time, for our pension gathering seniors to make a decision. Stay or go. My mother is on a fixed income, and she will have to make difficult choices- like many. Still, she has pension, that most of her children will not see. It is time to end the 'class warfare' and 'victimizatiion' that has become prevalent, in our great state.


Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 1:02 a.m.

Is my paycheck frozen ? No, it is down 11% from 5 years ago ! Is my 401k taxed going in ? Yes, and it will be taxed coming out. Is my 401k money my company has put in , NO ? My 401K is 100% funded by me, no company match.Were pensions for seniors taxed going in , NO? Did seniors fund their own pensions, in almost all cases the answer is NO ! Quit trying to make it look like all senior citizens are poor and living on their last dime. Seniors in this state live quit large collecitvely as a group. You don't fool us for one second cash, enough already.


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 6:03 p.m.

The film incentives are nothing more than welfare for Hollywood billionaires and millionaires. There is no justification for giving taxpayer handouts to fat cats from the left coast.

Joseph Scott Anthony

Wed, Mar 9, 2011 : 1:43 a.m.

Hollywood millionaires get paid exactly the same whether they shoot in Canada, or Louisiana. Michigan workers do not. Unless they move to Louisiana and establish residency. Which is exactly what friends of mine did in the last week. They followed a great paying film job the Governor forced to leave the State and is filming in Louisiana as we speak. The Governor of Louisiana just signed their incentives into permanent law. These are high paid skilled residents we are losing permanently.


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 5:57 p.m.

As far as the film tax incentives, these are numbers that seem fiscally responsible to me: - For every $1 that the state hands out, we're getting $5.94 infused back into the economy. That's amazing. That's an unmatchable return on investment. - In 2010, the state gave out a NET of 28 million dollars. In turn, over half a BILLION dollars then poured straight into the livelihood of the state in every form imaginable. - Thousands upon thousands of well-paying, full time jobs were then created as a direct result of the tax incentives, jobs that will be lost if they hold on to the proposed budget. If you argue this point, it's not your fault, but you don't understand how a film is made. - All these numbers don't come from me, they come from an impartial third-party: the reputable Ernst &amp; Young out of Washington DC. And yes, the film incentives were keeping the young and creative people here for the first time in decades. Plus, the intangibles: Moral boost, FREE worldwide PR, future tourism, revitalizing run-down areas and making people proud to say &quot;I live in Michigan&quot; once again. A little note on those 2010 numbers: 28 Million dollars is .06% of the state's budget. A little over half a percent of the overall budget. Any good business person can see what an incredible device the Film Incentives are. It's genius. And the only thing &quot;Hollywood&quot; about it, is the fact that they're the ones dumping money by the truckload into our state. Hollywood isn't using Michigan, Michigan is using Hollywood. If we are that worried about the budget deficit, lets just sink the U.P in to Lake Superior. That ought to get us back on track. Nothing against the U.P., but hey, it's all about the numbers, right? Lets all do the right thing here. Call your Representatives and tell them the incentives are working.


Wed, Mar 9, 2011 : 11 p.m.

God bless you Jake. I have lost faith in the intelligence of people commenting on this subject. Most of these guys think that some &quot;hollywood, billionaire, fatcat&quot; just shows up and says, &quot;I wanna make a $100 million movie here in Michigan&quot;, and then the BIG Government gives him a taxpayer-funded check for $42 million. Well, its obviously not that simple, although that line of thinking is easier for the simple-minded to understand. For those of you who feel like thinking for themselves, think about this: the film tax credit only applies to spending in MI, and its a TAX CREDIT. Despite what you think you understand, a tax credit is a credit against your taxes- meaning it lowers the taxes you owe. um, addition? If your credits are more than your tax liability, you get a refund. I feel like a kindergarten teacher talking to you people..

average joe

Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 1:49 a.m.

-Ernst &amp; young study was paid for by the film industry people....all published study results will benefit the person funding it. -&quot;...revitalizing run-down areas...&quot; ?? Name even one. -at 42% of the cost of a film, that &quot;worldwide PR&quot; isn't free. -&amp; if its &quot;genius&quot;, lets do it for all industries in the state. We'll have to put up tents to hold all the workers....

average joe

Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 1:21 a.m.

But Joe Serwach- The state IS in the business of maintaining roads, but are they really responsible of &quot;creating&quot; jobs for a single industry?

Joe Serwach

Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 12:58 a.m.

Actually the AVERAGE government program brings in $7 or more for every dollar invested. For example, if you pave a road, you create all sorts of jobs for the people supplying materials as well as the people working on the project. And when the project is over, you have a nice road people can drive on. When ou educate someone, there's a Teremndous reunion investment so it's very easy to match and surpass the ROI from the film industry.


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 8:40 p.m.

Your numbers are wrong. If you look at the film industry study critically, at best for every $1 that the state hands out they get back $1.40. Compare that to Pure Michigan which brings in over $2 for every dollar spent. The governor's budget proposes to fund both at the same level (about $25 million) which seems fair.

Yeah buddy

Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 6:04 p.m.

If it was only a net of $28 million spent, why is everyone so upset that it is going to be limited at $25 million?


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 5:39 p.m.

The level of callous assumption and statement of opinion as fact in this column is truly amazing. Overwhelmingly disappointing, but nonetheless amazing.

Marshall Applewhite

Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 10:45 p.m.

The word &quot;Column&quot; implies that the author will be expressing his opinion. If you are unable to handle reading someone's opinion, there are other sections of this publication geared more towards your tastes.


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 6:26 p.m.

It is a new low point here. I know too many people who need help to buy their food right now. This is a life and death issue. Callous is a good description. I am sick to my stomach after reading the article.

Yeah buddy

Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 5:36 p.m.

If you look at the pure cost of funding movie production in Michigan vs. total long-term job growth it simply wasn't worth the cost. There is no benefit to spending millions of dollars to produce a few hundred low paying jobs. The state would be better off hiring people to work on other projects with the same money.

Joseph Scott Anthony

Wed, Mar 9, 2011 : 1:33 a.m.

Have you read the Ernst &amp; Young report on the film incentive? This industry has generated $6 for every $1 spent. Read the report. No one in the Snyder administration or the Legislature denies the methodology, credibility or accuracy of this report The report is based on the actual data from the State of Michigan. The report can be downloaded at


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 5:34 p.m.

The Snyder administration does not want a film industry voice in the state of Michigan as the 2012 presidential election shapes up. National party lines are currently being drawn around the film industry and Chris Dodd was just hired by the Motion Picture Association to attempt to navigate this. The new administration stopped the industry in its tracks for that reason, and to create a clever diversion. With such a loud outcry over killing the film industry, his Darwinian policy of assisting the wealthy on the backs of the less fortunate gets less attention.


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 7:45 p.m.

You've got that exactly right. Good points.

Nick Nerbonne

Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 5:12 p.m.

A 'blank check' for film productions may not be ideal but neither is an abrupt shut-off of a program in its infancy. The intent of offering incentives for film productions to shoot in Michigan is to create a demand for support services (crew, catering, equipment rental, locations), which will in turn result in new infrastructure (studios, editing facilities, rental houses). This kind of process takes time and Hollywood studios - and their investors, need to know that the State of Michigan is committed to growing the film industry here. By threatening to eliminate incentives altogether, Gov. Snyder is essentially telling production companies to look elsewhere - and take their jobs and hundreds of millions in potential investment with them. Why not a gradual reduction in film credit percentage?


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 5:44 p.m.

Does not matter if it is 3, 5, 10, or 20 years, this industry is only here as long as the State of MI treasury checkbook is open. Once we close the checkbook, this industry will head to another state and look for a hand out there. And while in operation, the incentive program generates a small amount of tax revenue as compared to the refundable credits (subsidies) given out. All we are left with are some pretty pictures. I'd rather we build a road or something.

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 5:19 p.m.

because the film industry always has one foot out the door. A reduction can never happen as they will go somewhere else. Who gets left holding the bag will be Michigan folks who bet the farm on a transient gypsy industry that by its very nature works out of a truck(s).

Chris Taylor

Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 5:06 p.m.

Do you work the gov office? Sure sounds like it. Your opinion terrible. Cutting business taxes by $1.8 billion won't help create many jobs. It will just make the wallets of the CEOs bigger. Do those people really need more money taking it by stepping on the necks of the workers! Taking away the pensions of people who worked their whole lives for it? What a jerk move. POWER TO THE PEOPLE not the CEOs! RECALL SNYDER NOW!


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 6:42 p.m.

Snyder can save money on a PR firm can't he? IT has existed here for some time now.


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 4:56 p.m.

Re your #2. I don't understand how replacing the MBT with a tax on pensions can ever be classified as anything but a shift of tax burden from businesses to individuals. If replacing the MBT with a flat tax that was revenue-neutral was the plan, okay, I think people could be get on board with that. But the steep price tag associated with the current proposal smells like a money-grab using the structure of the MBT as an excuse. I guess I'm agreeing that I'd like to see Snyder try to make his case. Will host a forum?


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 4:54 p.m.

By scapegoating &quot;Hollywood&quot; (And all that implied west coast &quot;liberal&quot; stuff), it's easy to divert attention from what you're really doing.


Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 2:11 a.m.

This has nothing to do with who's ox is being gored. It's about straw man arguments. &quot;Left Coast&quot;, &quot;San Francisco&quot;, &quot;Hollywood&quot; are all pejoratives and code for &quot;Liberal&quot;. Often used by the crazy right when they have no facts.

Macabre Sunset

Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 9:47 p.m.

Funny how the liberals start beating the drum for corporate welfare when their favorite corporations are in danger of losing their welfare.