No foul on billboards chiding Gov. Snyder for higher taxes

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Truth Squad assigns five ratings to the political statements we review, in descending levels of accuracy:

No factual inaccuracies in the statement and no important information is missing
Mostly accurate
While the statement is largely accurate, it omits or exaggerates facts, or needs some clarification
Half accurate
Truths are interspersed with mistruths, or the speaker left out significant facts that render his/her remarks misleading in important respects
Mostly inaccurate
The major point or points made are untrue or misleading, even while some aspects of the claim may be accurate
The statement is false, or based on false underlying facts
Who: Progress Michigan
What: Billboards criticizing Gov. Rick Snyder
The call: No Foul

Statements under review:

“Hey Michigan Paying More in Taxes? You're Welcome”

Billboards attacking Republican Gov. Rick Snyder for his tax policies appeared in April in Ann Arbor and suburban Detroit. They featured a sinister-looking portrait of Snyder above the sarcastic remark about paying more in taxes. The billboards were paid for by Progress Michigan, a liberal advocacy group with ties  to organized labor.


A contract for a third billboard in Lansing was not fulfilled. Progress Michigan claimed that decision was due to politics, citing an an email  from a sales manager for Adams Outdoor Advertising that explained the contract would not be “in the best interest of Adams, as we are really trying to continue to maintain good relationships with the governor's office.” A general manager for Adams said the contract was not fulfilled for logistical reasons.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer, a former congressman, has made attacks on Snyder's tax record a centerpiece of his campaign. In 2011, Snyder pushed through sweeping changes to Michigan's business tax system, scrapping the Michigan Business Tax and replacing it with a 6 percent corporate income tax. It was calculated to be a $1.7 billion business tax cut in 2012-2013 in analysis by the nonpartisan Michigan House Fiscal Agency. To replace much of that revenue, Snyder backed legislation that raised taxes on individuals by about $1.4 billion. Its chief components and their calculated impact in 2012-2013:

  • Freeze the state income tax at 4.25 percent. It had been scheduled to fall to 3.9 percent by 2015. That was calculated by the House Fiscal Agency to raise $223 million in taxes in 2012-2013.
  • Lower deductions for pensions for those born 1946 or after, adding an estimated $343 million in taxes.
  • Reduce low-income tax credits from 20 percent to 6 percent, adding $261 million in taxes.
  • Lower homestead property tax credits, raising taxes by $270 million.
  • Eliminate a variety of tax credits, including those for donations to colleges, community foundations, public libraries, museums and homeless shelters. That adds $104 million in taxes.
  • The net impact in 2013 on a couple with two children earning $55,000 a year would be a state income tax increase of $739, the Fiscal Agency calculated. A married couple with two children earning $32,000 would see an increase of $396.

Snyder touts the business tax cut as a jobs creator that makes Michigan more competitive. That is difficult to prove, since a multitude of factors – including consumer confidence, interest rates, fuel prices and national and global trends – influence economic growth. State unemployment stood at 9.2 percent in January 2012 when the tax shift took effect. The rate in March was 7.5 percent. National unemployment fell even more sharply during that period, from 8.3 percent in January 2012 to 6.3 percent in April. The state posted  the 18th fastest growth in gross domestic product in 2012, at 2.2 percent, down from fourth fastest in 2011 at 3.5 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Emily Benavides, Snyder campaign spokesperson, said Snyder inherited a $1.5 billion deficit and "made tough decisions for the right reasons." She noted the drop in unemployment and said that private sector employment has gone up by a quarter million jobs since Snyder took office.

The call: No Foul

While Snyder cut taxes for business, residents saw a $1.4 billion increase in taxes. That includes taxes on everything from personal income to pensions and homestead property as well as higher taxes for low-income residents. The ad appears to be directed to Michigan residents, rather than businesses, and thus its message is factually correct, regardless of whether these tax changes led to more jobs.

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Thu, 05/15/2014 - 9:12am
And I read in last night's paper that the State will be $422 million short this year and $451 million next year while the legislature steals money from other programs to fund roads so they do not have to raise taxes even more.
Thu, 05/15/2014 - 9:50am
Individuals pay more in taxes when some used to get refunds so job creators can create more jobs supposedly so individuals can pay the state more taxes so job creators can.....take it to the bank
Thu, 05/15/2014 - 11:33am
Taxation Propaganda 101 - If it helps you (or your target audience), it's called a credit or deduction, if it helps someone else (probably your opponent), it's called a loophole or give-away. Relative equity or simplicity, economic distortion, or incentive has nothing to do with it and should never be brought up.
Thu, 05/15/2014 - 11:56am
Snyder's policies are terrible for Michigan. He is damaging the middle class and working poor to benefit his masters - Koch, Devos, and the Mackinac Center loons. And most of Michigan doesn't like what he's doing. His job approval in hovering in the high 30s. And people are especially angry about what he has done to public education. He is trying to dismantle a system that most in the state like. And raising taxes and fees on the middle class and working poor just makes it even more difficult for the state's economy to improve. If the majority of us don't have money to spend the economy suffers. We will GOTV in numbers like 2008 and 2012 and he will be gone. He does not deserve the power he has and we plan on giving it to someone who will protect and stand for all of Michigan - not just the 1%.
Thu, 05/15/2014 - 3:43pm
And yet Patti he will get re-elected easily, defeating a no-name challenger. Why? Because things are basically better than they were under 8 years of the previous administration. You are kidding yourself if he think he wont get re-elected. Despite the millions likely to be poured into his rival via organized labor as you see, everyone has a dark master.
Fri, 05/16/2014 - 12:36pm
Grady, Devos and the kochs will pour 10xs the money into snyder's re-election efforts than labor will for the Democratic candidate.
Thu, 05/15/2014 - 12:28pm
There was NO deficit. Even if there was, shifting taxes does NOTHING to settle a deficit. The budget Snyder inherited, as required by the Michigan constitution and passed by the Republican state senate, house and signed by the Democratic governor, was balanced. DUH. You'd think the Nerd would know that already.
Sat, 05/17/2014 - 11:18am
People don't see the real picture or the big picture. You are all basically right, the 1-2% profits from his policies while the middle and lower class suffers. From a political stand point, if the economy is good, he will be re-elected, if it is perceived to be bad, he will be thrown I like that? No, but that is the reality. Realistically, what a governor does hardly impacts their administration, the effects come out later. Engler caused a lot of the pain that Granholm lived with, (he cut everything when times were good and had a massive amount of state workers walk out the door on September 30th, with little or no plans for transition) and some of her actions are helping and possibly hindering Snyder. Snyder's will be felt in 5 years or so and yes, it will harm schools and others already commented on.