Road Funding Plan Penalizes Working Families, Again

Michigan families may have to absorb yet another hit to their wallet if the moderate wing of the Republican Party has its way in Lansing. Rather than adopting the Colbeck Plan, which would fund road repair without raising taxes, Republican leaders are scheming with their political donors and big business lobbyists to separate you from your ever shrinking disposable income. Worse yet, the proposed tax hikes backed by corporate lobbyists like the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, would disproportionately impact those on the lower and middle rungs of the economic ladder.

Fortunately for low and middle income wage earners, conservative Republicans – so far – are sticking up for average citizens while pushing back against their own party leadership and their moneyed allies.  It is the conservative wing of the Republican Party that is fighting to ensure hard-working taxpayers keep more of their hard earned money.  Not so the moderate wing of the Republican Party—they are fighting against the interests of the middle class. 

It seems that only conservative Republicans remember that Michigan citizens just spoke with near unanimity when they defeated the Prop 1 tax hike by a record 80-20% margin.   That result likely represents a hard reality that we need to remind Lansing of: the recent and ongoing economic burdens on the middle class.

Middle Class Shrinks, Lansing Grows

Statistics provided by the Pew Charitable Trusts show from 2000 to 2013  Michigan’s middle class shrank while median income declined from $61,551 (inflation adjusted) to $48,273.  Michigan’s dramatic income decline, a decrease of 22%, is among the steepest in the nation. 

So, since 2000, Michigan’s hard-working families have had to find ways to do with less income.  But this is not the case for Lansing. Statistics provided by the State Budget Office show that state spending has increased by 38% during this same period of time.

Lansing leadership tells us that roads have been neglected for many years and we need to do something—now!  But this is not a matter of a shortage in revenue.  Instead, it is a matter of unwise spending by the political class in Lansing.  Frankly, politicians have squandered your hard earned tax dollars on their favorite constituencies, while neglecting one of government’s primary duties – roads and infrastructure. Because the politicians choose to continue spending on their politically connected friends via corporate welfare programs like MEDC and MEGA, Michigan taxpayers are being asked to pay again to fund what should have been funded before. And this is being asked of us at a time when we earn substantially less.

Is it really any wonder that Prop 1 failed so overwhelmingly?

The Chamber versus Michigan families

Media outlets describe big business interest groups like Business Leaders for Michigan, the Detroit Regional Chamber, and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce as conservative organizations.  Are they? Not really.

Conservatives I know believe in equal opportunity for all and they believe in all hard-working taxpayers being able to keep more of what they earn. Politically favored business organizations, that coincidently are major donors to the entrenched Lansing establishment, fail to uphold these major tenets of conservatism when they lobby for favors.

Conservatives have always opposed the government picking winners and losers, thereby upholding the “equal opportunity for all” tenet of conservatism. This is why they want to do away with taxpayer-funded handouts to politically connected businesses.  This is why they would transfer these funds to fix our roads so that financially stressed wage earners can keep more of their eroded household income.  They want to see the Colbeck Plan enacted as it provides better roads without yet another tax hike on the lower and middle classes.

On the other hand, establishment moderates and their political funders insist on maintaining the corporate welfare status quo. In so doing, they violate the tenet of “equal opportunity for all.”  Moreover, these plundering allies know the surest way to keep funding for corporate welfare subsidies is to hike taxes again on families. It is a maneuver that has been used successfully ever since the Snyder administration took control.

As pointed out in a Detroit Free Press op-ed, tax revenue collected from individuals has gone up by $900 million/year. While this nearly $1 billion/year family tax increase is bad enough, what adds insult to injury are the political insiders lobbying our legislators to raise taxes on us yet again. It is the height of hypocrisy for business organizations that already benefited from their $1.7 billion/year tax reduction to push for another tax increase on families. Their mantra?  Tax Hikes for Thee but Not For Me.

Lansing has taken enough of our hard-earned dollars. It is time for a shift in spending priorities. It is time to get rid of corporate welfare and fix the roads.

Governor Snyder’s “Free” Federal Money

Corporate plunderers are not the only problem we face.  During the prior legislative session the Snyder administration and healthcare industry lobbyists fought tooth and nail to further embed Obamacare in the fabric of Michigan society. Snyder’s expansion of the failed Medicaid program was said to be funded by “free” federal money. This expansion would not cost Michigan a dime, we were told.

Well, the Medicaid expansion chickens are coming to home to roost. Reports indicate that Snyder wants Michigan’s working class to cough up another $200 million to cover the costs of his “free” federal program. Further, it has been reported that Snyder wants to add this cost into the road funding package. He wants to bury this cost in an unrelated funding program to avoid having to tell taxpayers they’ve been had, again.

Will Snyder continue to hold up a road funding program until he can bury the cost of his Medicaid Expansion? Only time will tell. You can contact the Governor and let him know what you think.

What Can Taxpayers Do?

Without their own politically connected lobbyists, the voices of individual taxpayers can be easily drowned out by corporate interests. When we band together, however, we can make our voices heard. Here’s what you should do:

  • Call your State Representative and State Senator and ask them to (1) support the Colbeck Plan. The Colbeck Plan is the only one that protects the interests of taxpayers on all rungs of the economic ladder. If your legislator won’t commit to the Colbeck Plan, then ask your legislator for a commitment not to raise taxes again on Michigan families. (2) Tell your legislator, if big business lobbyists are hell-bent on raising taxes, then legislators should accommodate them and raise their taxes, but don’t raise taxes again on Michigan families.
  • Contact the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and tell them that you don’t appreciate them lobbying to increase your taxes. Ask them to support the Colbeck Plan.
  • Share this information with your friends and family and ask then to get involved.

[Note: Lansing Democrats have posted an outline of their road funding plan. While conservatives wouldn't agree with their entire plan there are elements that benefit all individual taxpayers. Specifically, no tax increase on families, a reduction in corporate welfare, holding road contractors responsible for their work, and reducing truck weight limits by 50% to bring them in line with every other state in the union. ]

Update to original article

The non-partisan Senate Fiscal Agency states that, in two years, tax revenue from existing sources will increase by $1.6 billion. This is further evidence that a tax increase for road funding is not needed. We posted details here: With tax revenue up, Chamber wants even more.

Search Website