Tax vote ad plays it close to the vest; no foul from Truth Squad

Who: Michigan Alliance for Prosperity
What: Radio ad in favor of a ballot proposal to require supermajority tax votes
Truth Squad call: No foul

Questionable statements: “... the cost of living for the average family is outpacing growth in their household income. Families everywhere are paying more for basic needs like food, clothing, utilities and gasoline. We're all sacrificing our wants to take care of our needs. Michigan taxpayers should expect their legislators to do the same. The Two/Thirds movement in Michigan will do just that. The Two/Thirds Movement is made up of Michigan taxpayers who believe important decisions about raising taxes on Michigan citizens should require more than the current 50-plus-1 percent vote of the politicians. The Two/Thirds movement means raising Michigan residents' taxes requires broad, bipartisan support and public consensus.”

“The Two/Thirds Movement" is the Michigan Alliance for Prosperity, which is promoting a ballot measure that, as described above, would make Michigan one of 16 states to require more than a simple majority to raise takes at the state level.

That 16 already includes Michigan, in a more limited sense. Article 9, Section 3 of the state constitution already requires three-quarters of both houses of the Legislature to raise property taxes for school-district operating expenses. The Two/Thirds Movement would extend supermajority approval to other taxes as well.

The Two/Thirds Movement presents the state as still suffering acutely in the bad economy, claiming the cost of living is rising faster than household income. The Consumer Price Index over the last year rose 2.1 1.7 percent, while personal income in Michigan has been growing about 1 percent per quarter for the last year. (It should be noted that the CPI excludes energy and food, both of which have been rising lately. Food prices in particular are expected to climb, as effects of the drought filter through the food economy.)

The National Conference of State Legislatures, in a report last updated in 2008, found “little empirical evidence identifying the effects of supermajority vote requirements on the budget process. Anecdotal evidence suggests that they may cause states to miss or bump up against their budget deadlines, making it even harder to pass a budget on time. And, according to a new report released by the California Citizens Budget Commission, instead of slowing the growth in state spending, California's two-thirds vote requirement may have the opposite effect, allowing the legislative minority to frustrate the process of reaching compromise by withholding votes for spending in other areas. Ultimately, however, it is important to note that difficult budget decisions are probably more likely to be an obstacle to getting the budget passed on time than the number of votes required.”

California voters subsequently added to the 2/3 requirements, passing an amendment in 2010 that imposed supermajority votes for new fees.

The U.S. Constitution reserves supermajorities for rare circumstances – to remove an impeached federal official, ratify treaties and to amend itself.

Who is backing the Two/Thirds Movement? An earlier Truth Squad analysis of various ballot measures moving toward the November ballot found the Michigan Alliance for Prosperity gets nearly all of its money from “organizations connected to Manuel ‘Matty’ Moroun, owner of the Ambassador Bridge. Liberty Bell Agency of Warren contributed $2,288,921. According to Reuters, Matthew Moroun, son of Manuel Moroun, has been a manager of Liberty Bell since 1994. The second-largest contributor is Lansing attorney Samuel Theis, with $300.”

Overall impression: Michigan taxation has been restructured under the Snyder administration in 2011-12. It’s unclear whether the majority of Michiganians consider out-of-control taxation at the state level enough of a problem to require a new check on the Legislature.

Truth Squad call: No foul on factual claims.

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

If you learned something from the story you're reading please consider supporting our work. Your donation allows us to keep our Michigan-focused reporting and analysis free and accessible to all. All donations are voluntary, but for as little as $1 you can become a member of Bridge Club and support freedom of the press in Michigan during a crucial election year.

Pay with VISA Pay with MasterCard Pay with American Express Donate now

Comment Form

Add new comment

Dear Reader: We value your thoughts and criticism on the articles, but insist on civility. Criticizing comments or ideas is welcome, but Bridge won’t tolerate comments that are false or defamatory or that demean, personally attack, spread hate or harmful stereotypes. Violating these standards could result in a ban.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.