Guest column: Make businesses pay their fair share for schools, roads, universities

By Rep. Pam Faris

Doug Rothwell, president and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan, recently proposed a three-point plan to get Michigan moving. Rothwell's plan applauds Gov. Rick Snyder's proposed budget for fiscal 2014, acknowledging his investments in pre-K education, community colleges and higher education and the rebuilding of our infrastructure.

While I agree that these are areas that deserve legislative attention and increased funding, Rothwell does not acknowledge that Snyder is proposing to fund these areas with dollars taken from the wrong pocketbooks.

In his plan, Rothwell fails to point out that the funding for these programs will come from increased vehicle registration taxes on hard-working, middle-class Michiganders. Under Snyder's proposal, the registration tax for passenger cars and light trucks driven by individuals will go up by 60 percent, while those for heavy trucks used by businesses will only increase by 25 percent. The Republicans are once again using taxes to rob middle-class Michiganders while the business sector faces a minimal increase.

I understand and promote increased funding for quality preschools so that our young children will begin school ready to learn. The state has decreased funding for higher education dramatically over the last decade, and it is hampering the ability of students to pay for an education that will prepare them for well-paying careers. I fully support proper and adequate funding to complete these goals.

However, Michigan taxpayers should not be forced to foot the bill while businesses see a total reduction in liability.

Rothwell acknowledges the need for educated workers, and businesses complain about the lack of trained job applicants, yet business has sought and received huge tax breaks that could otherwise help Michigan residents with education and training.

I agree with Rothwell: We are at a pivotal moment in Michigan history, and we need to prioritize state spending to propel Michigan forward. Where I disagree with Rothwell is in who should pay for these priorities.

Business must pay their fair share for pre-K through higher education and for infrastructure improvements. It's time for Snyder and the Republican Party to put middle-class families first, and increase the amount of financial support coming from Michigan businesses.

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Tue, 03/05/2013 - 8:45am
So what are the jobs that businesses produce worth? Would you rather have a heavily taxed business that is making plans to move South? How about all the intangibles that businesses give back to the community such as sponsorship of little league sports and arts? And about the registration fee increases, 25% of the typical heavy truck registration fee is a heck of a lot more dollars than 60% of a passenger car or light truck. Governor Snyder and the Republicans in the legislature are on the right track to restoring fiscal stability in Michigan.
Tue, 03/05/2013 - 8:47am
We are paying enough taxes! The State should REBID ALL contracts and place limits on them. If companies & unions don't want to bid on them OK..DON'T. Throwing $$$ at problems does not FIX the problem. Paying a plumber more $$$ does NOT make that plumber a better plumber. Same for teachers, police etc. It's time to get QUALITY for what we are already paying. Anyone agree????
Tue, 03/05/2013 - 9:18am
@ hairman, Paying a union plumber, teacher, firefighter, etc. more money who have the skills and upgrade training they receive by belonging to a union, does make for a quality and safer installation, with proven results. All the while, saving the customer his hard earned dollars because the work was done efficiently, using fewer workers, coming in on-time and within budget.
Tue, 03/05/2013 - 12:54pm
Current, I am afraid you are leading a sheltered life. For all you say about unions is also being achieved by those who aren't in unions. When you shop do you believe that whoever is selling you the product or service should be competing for you money by delivering more and better value or should they simply be working for themselves. The unions brought great value to our society and we have changed because of that. Have the unions changed along with the rest of us? Do you ask a company what you did for me 50 or 60 years ago or event 5 or 10 years ago, or do we ask what are you doing now and what will you do in the future? My concern is that like the auto companies of only a few years ago they were hanging on to their past (and still are to a great degree) they want to hang on to their past and not compete in the changing world. The one question I have not heard from unoins or their supports is how having a union makes their members employers more competetive.
Tue, 03/05/2013 - 12:57pm
hairman, It isn't the cost, it is the value provided. If we are paying more for the union plumber, as long as we are getting better value (more reliable, lower total cost) then the price can be well worth it. However, if we are paying more for something that is only equal to what we can get from others then we aren't getting fair value and things need to change.
Tue, 03/05/2013 - 10:09am
I would be happy to support an increase in auto registration fees, if and only if, the legislature can get its act together and eliminate Michigan's no-fault auto insurance system and the catastrophic claims fund that currently adds $175 to each and every vehicle and will only continue to increase.
William C. Plumpe
Tue, 03/05/2013 - 12:03pm
Assuming we are talking about taxes being equitable (everyone pays their fair share) and progressive (easily determined and administered, based upon use) then why don't the Republicans support businesses paying their fair share and paying a tax that is closer to being a user's fee? (For example truckers particularly heavy steel haulers should pay more in road taxes because they use the roads more often and cause more wear and tear than a family driving up North on vacation). Since it is highly unlikely that taxes will be eliminated why don't we make them as progressive, fair and equitable as possible? Enough said.
Tue, 03/05/2013 - 1:05pm
Rep Faris, The failure in Lansing is the focus on dollars to the exclusion of accountablity. You may berate the Governor and others for how they allocate our tax dollars, but if you fail to include the purpose, the expectations (impact), performance markers and the necessary metrics as part of the legislation then you have failed in your/the Legislative responsiblities. Whether it be education (are you satified with what we are getting for our money) or the roads or any other service you allocate taxpayer dollar for and do not hold yourself and those who implement your programs then you little regard for the people being served and those pay for that service. You want none voters to pay more than voters do, though it is the voters you directly gain from your spending wants. It must disappoint you that it is those businesses you want to tax more that provide the jobs for those voters.
jean kozek
Wed, 03/06/2013 - 1:49pm
I will oppose any additional taxes on wage earners. In the last two years the MI legislature reduced business taxes a total of 84%. That's 84%. They raised taxes on families by eliminating the dependent child credit and homestead credit. They put a new tax on pensions. They cut wages for teachers, cops, police, etc. They raised taxes on the working poor. Our elected officials' policies have picked the winners and it isn't the average wage earner. American wages have been stagnant for decades. The median income is now $50,000/year. If wages had kept up with inflation and the rate of increases of the 70's, the median income would now be $92,000. Workers have improved productivity but their wages do not reflect this improvement. In the meantime, CEOs are gaining unprecedented wages and bonuses. Are they working 348 times harder than the average employee? I don't think so. I won't support an increase in a sales tax, another example of a tax not based on ability to pay. Retirees, low income workers, the unemployed, the underemployed and the wealthy all pay the same rate but the effects of the increase is much greater on those with the most tenuous income. Let corporations and businesses demonstrate some earnest respect for the future well-being of the state. Let them volunteer to pay for new roads.
Wed, 03/06/2013 - 8:07pm
“Guest column: Make businesses pay their fair share for schools, roads, universities | Bridge Michigan” was indeed in fact enjoyable and informative! In todays world that is difficult to deliver. Regards, Alysa
Wed, 03/06/2013 - 8:37pm
Thanks a ton for taking some time in order to create “Guest column: Make businesses pay their fair share for schools, roads, universities | Bridge Michigan”. Thank you so much again ,Onita
Sun, 03/10/2013 - 9:16am
Thanks guest columnist,State rep Pam Faris
Sun, 03/10/2013 - 7:30pm
Hairman, just maybe by paying a living wage to starting teachers you might just attract not only more people going into education but eventually better teachers. The old argument has always been they don't work year round . I agree lets have teachers working a longer year. Why not they dont get unemployment.