Advance Notice: Briefs

Pure Michigan left in the cold, leaders to talk tourism program in January

Image by June Simonton from Pixabay

Pure Michigan didn’t make the cut in the Fiscal Year 2020 budget supplemental spending plan finally negotiated by state leaders. But state House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) said he, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) will talk about the tourism program after the New Year.

“That was that was one of the issues we decided to have a conversation on in January,” Chatfield told reporters on Thursday.

Speaker Lee Chatfield and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, May 24, 2019 | Nick Manes

His comments came after Shirkey was asked during a scrum with reporters on the other side of the Capitol if he would be “OK” with Pure Michigan going away.

“No, I’m not good with Pure Michigan going away,” Shirkey said. “I believe that those who benefit the most from Pure Michigan should be the ones that primarily fund it.”

He was then asked if he wanted the tourism industry to pay for it.

“It’s one man’s opinion. One man’s opinion. But I think taxpayers — OK, I’ll get on my soapbox for a moment,” Shirkey said. “Taxpayers did a great service to businesses in Michigan that enjoy tourism. We came up with a research development project, a test to see if this would work. The taxpayers funded it and proved that it would work, so it took all the risk out of that risky investment. And now I believe the industry should own most of it.”

After Whitmer vetoed the funding on Sept. 30, the Michigan Senate Republican Twitter account blasted her for it.

Chatfield was asked on Tuesday about Shirkey’s suggestion for the tourism industry to primarily foot the bill for Pure Michigan.

“I’m committed to having the conversation on how we can ensure that that campaign is done wisely,” he said. “It’s been something that I think has been incredibly helpful for our state, certainly northern Michigan. But I’m looking forward to being at the table with the governor and the majority leader and ensuring that if it’s restored, it’s done so in a proper and wise way. But I can speak for my district [that] it’s been a benefit to northern Michigan.”

Shirkey agreed that Pure Michigan would be in the next round of negotiations and said he expected it would be in Whitmer’s FY 2021 budget proposal.

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Susan J. Demas

Susan J. Demas is a 21-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 4,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 70 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.

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Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue covers education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.

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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, Native issues and criminal justice for the Advance. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service. When Laina is not writing or spending time with her cats, she loves art and design, listening to music, playing piano, enjoying good food and being out in nature (especially Up North).

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