Many Michigan residents have enjoyed a laugh at the cheesy Pure Michigan advertisements. But though the ads — narrated by Michigan resident and actor Tim Allen — can be easy to dismiss as a stunt, the campaign is credited with spurring hundreds of millions of dollars in tax and business revenue since it began in 2006. Last week, the Michigan legislature voted once again to cut funding to Pure Michigan’s already-slashed budget. Spending needs to be cut to help keep the state’s finances in order, but Pure Michigan has been a positive contribution to the state’s economy. Restoration of Pure Michigan’s funding is vital to Michigan’s tourism industry.
In mid-September, The Detroit News reported that the state legislature approved a cut to Pure Michigan’s funding from $17 million in 2010 to $5.4 million for the 2011 fiscal year. This is the second consecutive year that the program’s budget has been cut by nearly $12 million, down from a high of $28 million in 2009. The projected $5.4 million doesn’t provide sufficient money for a fall 2011 campaign, according to Travel Michigan, the state’s tourism department. On Oct. 2, The Detroit News reported the legislature voted down a proposed $10 million funding increase to the program. This makes plans for full-scale winter and summer advertisement campaigns financially impossible.
Pure Michigan boasts some impressive results. According to Travel Michigan, last year the campaign brought over 2 million tourists to the state and over $600 million to hotels, gas stations, restaurants and other Michigan businesses. For every $1 that the state spent on the program, Travel Michigan estimates a $2.23 return in tax revenue in 2010. In 2009, the return reached as high as $5. These figures show that Pure Michigan is a good investment. The state legislature needs to reconsider decreasing support for such a successful program.
It’s difficult to understand how the legislature can justify cutting support of a flourishing campaign. Though state spending has been slashed across the board to balance the budget, the most recent cut to Pure Michigan is too severe for a program that greatly benefits the state’s economy. Other sectors of the budget, including the inflated corrections budget — Michigan spends about 20 percent of its general fund on corrections each year, which is much higher than the 2010 national average of 7 percent, according to a June 28 Newsweek report — should have taken greater hits before Pure Michigan.
On Monday, Gov. Jennifer Granholm proposed allocating $25 million from an expected $100-million increase in state tax revenue to Pure Michigan, according an Oct. 11 article in The Washington Post. With this increase in funding, the regional winter and national summer advertisements could be back on track. The Michigan legislature should support Granholm’s proposal and allow Pure Michigan to continue helping our state.
Pure Michigan is an undeniable benefit to Michigan’s tourism industry and general economic future. Its importance and continued survival should be considered seriously by the legislature. An increase in funding is necessary, whether by Granholm’s proposal or by some other means.