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Report Calls For $3 Billion Taxpayer Savings

April 19, 1997 | By Keith Schneider
Great Lakes Bulletin News Service

Green Scissors Michigan, a new report by the Institute and Taxpayers for Common Sense, calls for ending ten wasteful and environmentally harmful federal programs in Michigan. If these programs are eliminated, the savings to state and federal taxpayers would be $3 Billion.

Green Scissors Michigan builds a credible case for ending expensive programs that are difficult to justify, and fail to give taxpayers a fair return on their investment.

• The report targets five unneeded new highways that would cost $1.7 Billion, at a time when Michigan's greatest infrastructure need is to repair existing roads.

The highways, including proposed bypasses in Traverse City and Petoskey, would accelerate suburban sprawl, and encourage superstore development that undermines family-owned main street businesses.

• The biggest single savings identified in the report -- $750 million -- would come from ending a costly federal tax credit that has spurred the drilling of thousands of natural gas wells in the northern regions of the Lower Peninsula.

The wells and associated facilities have turned publicly-owned forest lands into a noisy, muddy industrial zone. Meanwhile, the beneficiaries of the tax break -- utilities, drilling firms, and multinational energy companies -- have enjoyed a dramatic appreciation in the value of their businesses, at taxpayer expense.

• The study also recommends deactivating the Navy's Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) transmitters, located in the Upper Peninsula, which are relics of the Cold War.

U.S. Senator Russell Feingold (D-WI) recently said that the transmitters "linger like a blot on our budget." The taxpayer savings: $60 million.

• The National Park Service also comes under scrutiny for planning to waste $5 million by building a new tourist road through the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Citizens and business groups support upgrading a county road instead.

• The study concludes that several unwise subsidies distort the market, create incentives for businesses and individuals to damage the environment, and subject taxpayers to excessive financial liability.

For example, the National Flood Insurance Program encourages building in risky beachfront locations, where storms and the extreme fluctuations in the water levels of the Great Lakes can cause excessive property damage.

The national Green Scissors project has helped to eliminate 11 unneeded federal programs, saving taxpayers approximately $20 Billion.

The project's current national report, Green Scissors '97, proposes cutting 57 federal programs to save $36 Billion. Green Scissors Michigan, funded by a grant from The Joyce Foundation, is the project's first state-specific study.G

Green Scissors Michigan is available at no charge to Institute members, and for $10 to non-members. To obtain a copy, contact the Institute at P.O. Box 228, Benzonia, MI 49616, Tel. 616-882-4723; or David Madland, Taxpayers for Common Sense, 651 Pennsylvania Avenue S.E., Second Floor, Washington, D.C. 20003; Tel. 202-546-8500, ext. 111.

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