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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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Bridge welcomes guest columns from a diverse range of people on issues relating to Michigan and its future. The views and assertions of these writers do not necessarily reflect those of Bridge or The Center for Michigan. Bridge does not endorse any individual guest commentary submission. If you are interested in submitting a guest commentary, please contact David Zeman. Click here for details and submission guidelines.

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