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Bridge Michigan
Michigan’s nonpartisan, nonprofit news source

Tax burden Prop 1 would impose too heavy to bear

A number of economists and finance experts have recently published studies ranking states by their total state and local tax burdens. Unfortunately for our economic growth and the wellbeing of working families, Michigan ranks near the bottom of that ranking – 45 of 51 (the studies include the District of Columbia). Our total state and local taxes are 22 percent higher than the national average.

Proposal 1 would add $2 billion to our taxes in Michigan, forever. And why are we being asked to take on this tax hike? Allegedly, to fix our roads.

Our roads clearly need maintenance and repair. I would actively support good policy that actually addresses the condition of the roadways in Michigan. Proposal 1 is not that policy.

Voters have been misled as Proposal 1 supporters attempt to hide the $700 million in Proposal 1 taxes committed to special interests unrelated to transportation by saying the money from Proposal 1 is guaranteed to “roads.” In year 1 only 25 percent of this $2 billion tax bonanza will be devoted to repairing our roads. By year 3 they “promise” that 60 percent of the money will be devoted to transportation – not just our roads. That means that more than $700 million every year will be spent on things that do nothing to fix or improve our roads – again, forever.

Voters are being told, misleadingly, that much of the additional $700 million will protect our teachers and public safety at the local level. Ask a supporter to show you the language, in either the constitutional amendment we will vote on or the 10 separate bills that go into effect if Proposal 1 passes, that guarantees the money goes to the classrooms or for our police and firefighters. The supporter, if you can find one, will stammer and give you a blank stare or lame argument. That is because no part of Proposal 1 provides any such guarantees.

Proposal 1 is the largest tax increase in Michigan in 50 years and we, the voters and taxpayers, are left to trust that future legislatures will use this massive tax increase as they have promised.

Proponents also argue that improved roads are needed for economic growth and job creation. No argument with that – but a massive increase in our taxes will also have a negative effect on economic growth, job creation and the pocketbooks of most citizens.

None of the Proposal 1 supporters in Lansing have explained why even some small amount could not be saved and reprioritized in our state budget to reduce, if not avoid, this tax increase. We are told this is our last, best chance. Tell the Lansing politicians that the voters will tell them when they are out of chances and to focus upon just fixing our roads. Tell the politicians to get serious about respecting our tax dollars and ensuring they are used efficiently. You can send that message by voting no on Proposal 1 on May 5.

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