By Rick Pluta
The Pure Michigan tourism ads will be back on the air in neighboring Midwestern states as people are making summer travel plans, thanks to another stop-gap measure from Lansing. The Legislature has approved a temporary funding measure to pay for the ads, after having been deadlocked on the question since last year. Republicans won't accept Governor Granholm's proposal to tack a fee onto airport car rentals.
The compromise will keep the campaign on the air for the balance of the year by tapping the state's general fund for about $9.5 million dollars. That's even though the state budget is already facing a huge deficit.
State Senator Jason Allen says he would rather not take money from the general fund, which is already facing a big deficit. But he says an anemic summer travel season would also cost the state money.
"This allows us to have a summer campaign and in tough economic times," he says. "I recognize that it would be greater to have additional resources, but when we're looking at the billions of dollars we're short in the budget. Is it perfect? No."
But Representative Dan Scripps says the state makes back the money it spends on Pure Michigan because it lures tourists to the state.
"A number of people whose livelihoods depend on the tourism industry were watching this vote. This is very good news," he says.
Scripps says now lawmakers have to go back to work to identify an independent source of funding for the campaign.