Detroit Center for Innovation

A rendering of the Detroit Center for Innovation

(The Center Square) – Michigan’s 2023 budget will give $100 million to a billionaire's pet project but no tax relief to 10 million Michiganders despite $7 billion leftover in the state’s bank.

The Center Square reported earlier this month that the $77 billion budget gives  $100 million for the Detroit Center for Innovation, a new research facility operated the University of Michigan.

Crain’s Detroit reported that Stephen Ross, who Forbes says is worth $8.2 billion, personally lobbied top lawmakers in person on February 9.

Lawmakers approved the budget in a marathon overnight session after Detroiters pushed back on giving Detroit billionaire Dan Gilbert $60 million  to renovate Bedrock’s Hudson building.

The most expensive spending project was $130 million for an Electric Vehicle teaching, training, and development center operated by the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor.

John Mozena, president of the Center for Economic Accountability, a nonprofit organization for transparent economic development policy said that “the auto industry in Michigan will never pass up an opportunity to try to offload its costs onto the state’s taxpayers.”

Also, rising inflation has hit consumers and producers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its Producer Price Index data Thursday, which showed a 11.3% increase in the past 12 months.

Mozena said that capital is getting harder to access in the startup EV world “after the early dumb capital was lit on fire in a succession of failures.”

He said that designing a vehicle is easier than assembling thousands and delivering them to customers while pleasing regulators, something that Detroit has known for more than 100 years. 

“The thing is, assembling thousands or millions of vehicles to North American quality standards is probably the most difficult manufacturing challenge in the world," Mozena said in a statement. "The legacy automakers, for all of their other faults, made an incredibly difficult job look easy enough that investors assumed anyone could do it. The lessons of Tesla, Lordstown Motors, Nikola, Fisker, Bright Automotive, Electric Last Mile, Rivian and so many others are teaching them otherwise.”

In June, EV startup Electric Mile filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This week, EV company Rivian, which Michigan subsidized with $750,000, says it will cut costs.

Staff Reporter

Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.