The Associated Press reported yesterday that Washington state is cutting its tourism promotion budget, in an effort to close its budget gap. This latest news is further proof that the budget shortfalls seen in virtually every state in the Union are helping ignite a conversation about the proper role of government. It's an important conversation. When you can't pay for everything you want, you have to figure out what you need.
It's kind of like when we were little and our parents told us they would pay for what we need, but we needed to get a paper route to pay for the toy we were currently clamoring for. Much like liberals around the country, we cried and whined it wasn't fair. Eventually we got up off the ground, wiped the tears from our face, and got that job (& bought that toy). Companies who previously relied on corporate welfare from the government are being forced to learn the same lesson today.
Government is meant to serve a limited purpose, not be an unlimited purse for companies and individuals to pilfer from for things they should take care of themselves.
Now don't get us wrong. We love former state Senator Al White, who is now Hickenlooper's Director of Tourism, but taxpayer funded tourism advertising is not the proper role for our tax dollars. It's corporate welfare.
In the AP article, a Michigan tourism official claims they get $3.29 in tax revenue for every dollar they spend on out-of-state advertising, and much more for businesses. This "research" is so painfully suspect that we're surprised the AP reporter didn't quote anyone who sees through the propaganda. These kind of "studies" are bunk because they assume the money won't be spent if government doesn't spend it.
It's also laughable that Michigan is the one state the AP highlights as a reason for continued government support for tourism ads. Michigan can't keep their residents from fleeing the state, but somehow some shiny ads on TV are drawing tourists by the droves?
If that study is right it only proves that the tourism industry should fund its own advertising. A return on advertising like that is what advertisers dream of.
But it's highly dubious, otherwise every state would be boosting their tourism ad dollars, since it would be a net generator of tax revenue. Most states in the country are cutting their tourism advertising dollars, punching holes in the veracity of that "study."
They are cutting them because they are a want, not a need. We think taxpayer supported tourism advertising is corporate welfare, plain and simple.
In Washington state, $300,000 has already been raised for an advertising campaign, with a goal of $15 million, which is more than double the $7 million Washington allocated in their budget last year.
Let the companies raise the money to promote themselves. Don't expect taxpayers to foot the bill.