THE ROUND UP
Economics in Brief
NEW LAW WILL PROVIDE FLEXIBILITY TO MICHIGAN FILM OFFICE
LANSING — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed a new law allowing the Michigan
Film Office to negotiate the size of incentives it can offer to film, television and
video game producers.
Under current law, the incentive program is strictly defined, resulting
in fixed a percentage the film office must adhere to. Opponents of the
tax breaks said the fixed rate often resulted in a greater expenditure of
taxpayer money than was necessary.
With this change, the film office will have the option of offering
production companies seeking expense reimbursement less than the
current automatic 42 percent subsidy. In the short term, the new law will
help officials decide how to allocate the $25 million approved for the
new fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.
STATE SENATE SETS WELFARE CAP AT FOUR YEARS
LANSING —The Michigan Senate approved along party lines a four-year limit on cash
assistance welfare benefits. The measure is expected to win the
approval of the state House. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has
said he will use the $77.4 million projected savings to help bal-
ance the state's budget.
Republicans argue the state can no longer afford to provide
lifetime welfare benefits, while advocates for low-income
families argue that local communities are not prepared to deal
with the 12,600 families who will likely lose benefits — averag-
ing a little more than $500 a month — come Oct. 1, which is
the start of the new fiscal year.
The bill, which also contains provisions prohibiting spend-
ing welfare benefits on lottery tickets, alcohol, tobacco and gambling, makes Michigan's
welfare time limits among the strictest in the Midwest.
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LEVEL ONE BANK TO BOOST LENDING TO SMALL BUSINESS
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FORECLOSURES DOWN BUT HOUSING SLUMP CONTINUES
Foreclosure filings fell dramatically during the first half of the year, thanks to
processing delays at the banks, reports RealtyTrac, an online marketer of fore-
closed property. According to its latest figures, foreclosure filings are down 29
percent compared with the same period a year ago, and were
down 25 percent from the last six months of 2010.Through
June 30, 1.2 million U.S. homeowners — or one in every
111 households — received a foreclosure filing. RealtyTrac
analysts say processing delays at banks will only prolong the
housing slump, which could now last through 2016.
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STATE AGRICULTURE DEPT, PROMOTES 'BUY LOCAL' CAMPAIGN
Spending just $10 a week on Michigan-made products like apples,
cherries, asparagus, potatoes, blueberries, baby food, cereal and baked
goods would keep more than $40 million in the state's economy every
week, according to the Michigan Department of Agriculture.
To make it easier to find Michigan-made products, Spartan Stores kicked
off its expanded "Michigan's Best" campaign this summer. Shoppers will
now find the Michigan's Best label on more than 3,000 — up from 2,400
— Michigan-made products at all Spartan-affiliated stories.
ADVANCED VEHICLE TECHNOLOGY ACT ADVANCES TO FULL SENATE
WASHINGTON —The U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee approved
legislation introduced by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., which could help domestic
manufacturers produce more fuel-efficient vehicles. The bill now heads to
the full Senate for consideration.
The legislation would authorize appropriations to the secretary
of energy for the research, development, demonstration and
commercialization of advanced technology vehicles, including
electric, hybrid, hydrogen and natural gas cars.
"We need to build the new vehicles of the future here in
America in order to create clean-energy jobs in Michigan and
across the country," Stabenow said in a statement. "The Ad-
vanced Vehicle Technology Act will help our manufacturers and sup-
pliers research and develop technologies to make more fuel-efficient
vehicles, reducing costs at the pump and reducing our dependence on
Should the legislation be approved, it would still need to pass the U.S. House of Repre-
sentatives, where a companion bill introduced by Rep. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township,
remains stuck in committee.
STATE LOSES CLEAN ECONOMY JOBS
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Michigan is the only state to lose "clean economy" jobs in the past seven years,
according to a report released in July by the Brookings Institution Metro-
politan Policy Program.
While the state ranks in the top third nationally with the number of clean
economy jobs located here, it lost more than 1,500 of those jobs from 2003
to 2010, translating into a negative 0.3 percent annual growth rate, accord-
11 ing to the"Sizing the Clean Economy" study.