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How could Michigan cut income taxes AND spend more on education and infrastructure?

Frankly, we have no idea. There’s no clear path to accomplishing both. There’s only a collision course.

The Republican governor’s experts spent the last year-plus building arguments for $6 billion per year in new spending on education and infrastructure. The GOP-run Michigan Legislature spent the first part of 2017 building arguments for a $1.1 billion annual tax cut. The competing visions for Michigan’s future simply cannot be reconciled.  

The legislative response in the state capitol to the infrastructure commission’s $4 billion a year alarm bells? Crickets. Snyder’s budget proposal this winter asked for $20 million for future infrastructure projects – less than one percent of the identified unmet need –  but the House cut that to $5 million.

The legislative response to the education commission’s $2 billion a year alarm bells? Crickets. Neither the education commission nor the governor spelled out how to pay for the  recommended fixes. Nor has the legislature responded in any serious way.

Snyder’s budget proposal this winter beefed up funds for at-risk schools by $150 million. The House budget cut that to just under $130 million. Snyder's budget called for a 2.5 percent increase for universities, an increase of $35 million. The House budget has a 1.9 percent increase of nearly $27 million. The 21st Century Education Commission said in its February report Michigan would need to spend $740 million more a year to rank in the top half of states in support for higher education.

Finally, it’s always easier to proclaim you’ll cut taxes if you don’t have to explain where you’d trim spending to pay for the cuts. This lack of specifics was part of the downfall of the House income tax cut plan earlier this year, as Rep. Michael McCready, R-Bloomfield Hills, explained as he voted against the tax cut plan: “I wanted to know what area of the general fund we were going to cut. I wasn’t comfortable about not getting the information. Our general fund has a lot of pressures.”  

NEXT: What if Michigan ultimately raises taxes? Who might get nicked?

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