Lawmakers Demand Action to Create Jobs, Fight for 'Hire Michigan First'

Legislators call for bipartisan cooperation to use taxpayer dollars to support workers
Monday, January 31, 2011

Calling for state leaders to back up their bipartisan talk with action, House Democratic lawmakers today announced they will reintroduce the Hire Michigan First plan, an aggressive job-creation package that will put Michigan workers back on the job now by making sure they are first in line for the jobs their tax dollars create.

The Hire Michigan First plan supports working families by rewarding companies that employ Michigan workers and cracks down on those that hire undocumented workers.

“The best way to turn our economy around is to put Michigan residents to work,” said State Representative Jim Townsend (D-Royal Oak), a sponsor of the plan. “It’s ridiculous that our tax dollars would create jobs for workers from other states and countries when our residents are willing, able and looking for work. Hire Michigan First will help put Michigan residents to work while ensuring companies that accept state incentives to create jobs keep their promises.”

The Michigan House of Representatives passed the Hire Michigan First plan multiple times in past legislative sessions, but key provisions were gutted by the Republican-controlled Senate.

The Hire Michigan First plan helps make sure that state economic development incentives and contracts are used to hire Michigan workers, not illegal immigrants or workers from other states. Michigan will spend nearly $3 billion this year on tax incentives for businesses, but there is currently no way for the state to determine how many jobs they create or if those jobs are going to Michigan workers. The plan to be reintroduced Tuesday:

  • Gives companies that hire Michigan workers priority in the awarding of state tax incentives and other economic development tools.
  • Creates transparency and accountability by requiring companies that accept incentives to report on who they hire to ensure that Michigan residents are put first.
  • Cracks down on companies that hire undocumented workers by creating penalties that can include requiring them to pay back their tax incentives and barring them from future state contracts.

“Michigan workers and their families have been hurting for way too long, and we need to take action quickly and help put them back to work,” said State Representative Lisa Brown (D-West Bloomfield), a sponsor of the plan. “This plan ensures that we’re not outsourcing our taxpayer dollars to other states and countries and actually creating jobs here. It was frustrating to see this plan stall last session, but I expect that the new Legislature will continue its bipartisan tone and come together to take a stand for Michigan workers.”

State Representative Ellen Cogen Lipton (D-Huntington Woods) also supports the plan: “The state can’t be handing out tax incentives with no way to track how many jobs are created. This plan will help ensure Michigan residents get the jobs their tax dollars create and also bring some much-needed accountability to the way our state uses economic development incentives. With resources scarce, this is the type of reform we need to make sure we get value for our tax dollars.”