Tourism officials across the state are raising concerns about the Governor’s decision to execute a line-item veto, nixing funding for the Pure Michigan advertising campaign.
At a press conference today Governor Whitmer defended the decision, saying the legislature forced her to make tough decisions.
“I’m always going to put public safety… ahead of any ad campaign,” says Whitmer.
A spokesperson for the governor’s office says Whitmer supports Pure Michigan, but the budget Republicans sent her was “fatally flawed.”
The spokesperson pointed out that the governor’s executive budget had included $31 million for the campaign. They added that if Republicans want to come back to the table and negotiate, “she is ready to talk.”
Peter Fitzsimons is the executive director for the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau.
“We’re disappointed in what the Governor has done,” says Fitzsimons. “We’re going to work hard to change her mind and get the money back in the budget if not for next year than certainly for the year after.”
Paul Beachnau, the executive director of the Gaylord Area Convention and Tourism Bureau, says the cuts are disappointing — especially for rural and northern Michigan.
“It’s our top employer and top economic generator,” Beachnau says. “In my mind, it's an investment more so than just an advertising expenditure.”
Beachnau adds that if the campaign is cut, the region could see “substantial” negative economic impacts.
The state has long touted the effectiveness of the campaign. A state commissioned report this year found the campaign brings $9 to the state for every dollar spent.
The Mackinac Center for Public Policy has disputed those findings, however, arguing the state sees only $20,000 worth of return for every million dollars spent on the campaign.
Michael LaFaive is with the center. He says cutting funds to the Pure Michigan campaign would be a good step — if that is what’s actually happening.
“I do worry that this is just posturing and the Governor doesn’t really want to eliminate the program,” says LaFaive. “She just wants to use it as one of her bargaining chips to get Republicans to negotiate with her on roads.”