Runestad bill would increase government transparency

Runestad bill would increase government transparency

Senator Jim Runestad

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Runestad introduced legislation Tuesday to increase accountability and transparency for the state’s economic development initiatives.

Senate Bill 771 would require the state to report the dollar amounts that companies with Michigan Economic Growth Authority deals have received.

“Michigan taxpayers deserve to know who is collecting their money and how much they’re getting,” said Runestad, R-White Lake. “The state signed deals with companies who are expected to collect $6.1 billion in taxpayer funding through the old MEGA program. Yet residents cannot be told how much an individual company gets. This is a travesty of basic transparency and this bill fixes that problem.”

Runestad’s bill is part of a package of legislation, SBs 767-771, that includes numerous budget safeguards to ensure taxpayer dollars are being used efficiently. Runestad is a co-sponsor of the other bills in the package.

Under another bill in the package, when an economic development incentive fails, funding will then be reverted to the state’s General Fund versus being left with the Michigan Strategic Fund.

“When a project does not produce the projected number of jobs, or the agreement has to be amended because results did not meet expectations, the financial incentive will be reduced by a proportionate amount — meaning the further away from the goal a project is, the less money it will receive,” Runestad said.

The bills would also increase certain reporting requirements. For example, the bills would require public notice of companies who receive funds but go out of business or companies who are unable to meet the original agreement.

SBs 767-771 have been referred to the Senate Committee on Economic and Small Business Development for consideration.