Wednesday, November 25, 2015

by Joe Lehman's Facebook

Republican lawmakers apparently learned nothing from Michigan's "lost decade." Cutting hundreds of corporate welfare deals did not prevent the loss of nearly a million jobs but they did cost less well connected taxpayers at least $9 billion while things like road repair languished.
Now Republicans are leading the charge to essentially bribe a business to set up shop here, leaving every other taxpayer on the hook for the cost of the tax-break "bribe." You can bet they'll line up for photos at the corporate ribbon cutting ceremony but be very shy about discussing the precise details of the secret tax deal, especially when it fails to live up to their promises as such deals usually do.
Corporate welfare doesn't work, it isn't fair, and it's not the job of government to pick winners and losers. It's unseemly.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Headlee Abused Again

From: "David Lonier" <>
Subject: Authority not granted to raise taxes/fees to fix roads!
Date: November 5, 2015 at 10:50:17 AM EST
To: "David Lonier" <>

To anyone who has the tiniest grasp of the English language and the concept of self-rule…
This was sent to all State Senators who actually had the nerve…  
A similar notice was sent to all State Reps prior to their actually voting to increase a tax on gasoline and vehicle registration fees…can you believe that?

Dear State Senator,

To increase the gas tax AFTER VOTER DISAPPROVAL, is a blatant disregard of lawmakers’ oath to uphold the constitution.
The Headlee Amendment was passed by the people of Michigan to ensure that there would be no tax increases without their approval.

Where in Article IX of the Michigan State Constitution does it say that the State Legislature can pass a tax increase without voter approval or with an over 80% voter disapproval (Prop. 1) or by a 2/3rds vote of the Lawmakers?

        Guess what?  It doesn’t!

    Any Bill to increase taxes without voter approval has no force of law!
                             It’s in direct contravention of our State Constitution!

      Can you read?  Can you comprehend?


Text of Section 25:

Voter Approval of Increased Local Taxes; Prohibitions; Emergency Conditions; Repayment of Bonded Indebtedness Guaranteed; Implementation of Section
Property taxes and other local taxes and state taxation and spending may not be increasedabove the limitations specified herein without direct voter approval. The state is prohibited from requiring any new or expanded activities by local governments without full state financing, from reducing the proportion of state spending in the form of aid to local governments, or from shifting the tax burden to local government. A provision for emergency conditions is established and the repayment of voter approved bonded indebtedness is guaranteed. Implementation of this section is specified in Sections 26 through 34, inclusive, of this Article.[1]

For clarification as to where the funds will come from, and the law prohibiting excess surplus, see below for verification:
Re: Section 26 below…
There is currently well over $20 Billion above the tax limitation, all but 1% of which belongs in the taxpayers’ bank accounts.
Actually far more if one considers the sixty thousand million dollar ($60  Billion +) astronomical State pension fund.
For government to amass this amount of taxpayers’ money is unconstitutional and beyond plunder!
Article IX:

Text of Section 26:

Limitation on Taxes; Revenue Limit; Refunding or Transferring Excess Revenues; Exceptions to Revenue Limitation; Adjustment of State Revenue and Spending Limits
There is hereby established a limit on the total amount of taxes which may be imposed by the legislature in any fiscal year on the taxpayers of this state. This limit shall not be changed without approval of the majority of the qualified electors voting thereon, as provided for in Article 12 of the Constitution. Effective with fiscal year 1979-1980, and for each fiscal year thereafter, the legislature shall not impose taxes of any kind which, together with all other revenues of the state, federal aid excluded, exceed the revenue limit established in this section. The revenue limit shall be equal to the product of the ratio of Total State Revenues in fiscal year 1978-79 divided by the Personal Income of Michigan in calendar year 1977 multiplied by the Personal Income of Michigan in either the prior calendar year or the average of Personal Income of Michigan in the previous three calendar years, whichever is greater. For any fiscal year in the event that Total State Revenues exceed the revenue limit established in this section by 1% or more, the excess revenues shall be refunded pro rata based on the liability reported on the Michigan income tax and single business tax (or its successor tax or taxes) annual returns filed following the close of such fiscal year. If the excess is less than 1%, this excess may be transferred to the State Budget Stabilization Fund. The revenue limitation established in this section shall not apply to taxes imposed for the payment of principal and interest on bonds, approved by the voters and authorized under Section 15 of this Article, and loans to school districts authorized under Section 16 of this Article. If responsibility for funding a program or programs is transferred from one level of government to another, as a consequence of constitutional amendment, the state revenue and spending limits may be adjusted to accommodate such change, provided that the total revenue authorized for collection by both state and local governments does not exceed that amount which would have been authorized without such change.[1]

And so where is the money going to come from to fix the roads???????

The State is allowed to retain no more than 1% surplus above its spending in any given fiscal year….

On Page 23 of the 2014 CAFR find Governmental Funds:

Read as follows:
Most of the State's basic services are reported in the governmental funds, which focus on how money 
flows into and out of those funds and the balances left at year-end that are available for future spending. The governmental fund 
financial statements provide a detailed short term view of the State's general government operations and the basic services it 
provides. Governmental fund information helps determine whether there are more or fewer financial resources that can be spent 
in the near future to finance the State's programs. These funds are reported using modified accrual accounting, which measures 
cash and all other financial assets that can readily be converted to cash. Governmental funds include the General Fund and 
special revenue, capital project, debt service, and permanent funds. 

Governmental Fund balance is $5.77 Billion

Budget Stabilization Fund is $497 Million

Total cash available for spending:  Governmental + Budget Stabilization = $6.227 Billion
All that’s necessary to fix the problem and the roads is for government to obey the CONSTITUTION!
And beyond the above cash that’s readily available to fix the roads…take a good look at this:

            1. Repeal the Prevailing Wage Act: $400 Million
            2. Repeal the counterproductive MEDC:  $ Billions wasted on corporate welfare
            3. Bring benefits paid to state workers in line with the private sector:  $5.7 Billion
            4. Drop any thoughts of Michigan taxpayers footing any portion of the totally unnecessary 
                $5.3 Billion International Bridge
            5. Use the “unrestricted” surplus in the CAFR/Governmental/Rainy Day/Budget Stabilization Fund:  
                $5.77 Billion, See CAFR pgs 23 & 38
            6. There are $ billions in the Catastrophic Claims Fund that are being used for nothing!
            7. Use the money from the nearly $2 billion increase in state revenue that’s expected from FY 2015-2017.  See attachment
            8. Roads?  Or a new $130 million senate office building so senators can have better view of the capitol????

                Click on the links & see attachment to verify! 

To tax the people AFTER the people have said NO… 
Is telling the taxpayers that the tax-takers have assumed the role of tyrants with total disregard for the will of the people!
You all should hang your heads in shame for even considering such unethical behavior.  

Courtesy of David Lonier
2014 Nominee, State House, 29th District
1842 Commonwealth
Auburn Hills, Michigan 48326


Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Lincoln Park at it Again

The taxpayers of Lincoln Park have just turned down the inclusion of PA 345 into their charter in May. The Emergency Manager, Brad Coulter will not take NO for an answer and has placed the question again on the November 3, ballot. The language is below:
This proposal creates a separate funding stream to generate new tax revenue for a Police
Officers and Fire Fighters pension system.
Shall the City of Lincoln Park, County of Wayne, Michigan, be authorized to establish a
Retirement system for the benefit of police officers and fire fighters, create a pension
board, and levy taxes annually in an amount sufficient to fund the system, but not to
exceed six (6) mills in any year, on each dollar of taxable value (maximum $6.00 per
$1,000) for all property in the City, all in accordance with the provisions of Michigan
Public Act 345 of 1937, as amended?
They have limited the request not to exceed six mills in any year but that can amount to an increase of $300 per year on a house with a taxable value of $50,000. It lets the City of Lincoln Park keep the money taxpayers have already voted for those purposes in Lincoln Park’s general fund budget to spend on other things.
The State of Michigan has 1,773 cities, villages and townships. Only 45 of them have approved PA 345. There is a very good reason for that. While establishing the retirement system is optional, once created, the local government must provide benefits under the terms of the Statute. There is probably as many interpretations of the statute as there are those offering it. The taxpayers lose.
Some of the problems with funding pensions, are caused by the municipalities themselves. Because they can never have enough money they find ways to extract it from the taxpayers any way they can. Sometimes it is by early retirement for the employees, which drains the pension fund and relieves the general fund, which is part of Lincoln Park’s problem. The next step may be a Deferred Retirement Program (DROP) which pushes the collection of the monetary portion of the benefits forward and transfers the other benefits to PA 345. Then they hire the employees back as contractors thus relieving the general budget from those costs.
In 2013 the top 20 wages in Lincoln Park were as follows:
1 Police  HAWK, BRIAN     232,247.06
2 Fire     LEWIS, SCOTT   149,320.05
3 Fire    VANCE, DOUGLAS B    138,125.84
4 Police KOLAKOVICH, RICHARD 122,558.97
5 Police POWERS, MICHAEL L 120,565.33
6 Police LAVIS, JOSEPH D 115,004.35
7 Fire    WRIGHT, ROBERT 110,511.05
8 Fire    HEIM, STEVEN 110,440.45
9 Fire    PRINZ JR, MICHAEL S 110,427.35
10 Fire  PERRY, BRANDEN 110,376.90
11 Fire  HENDRICKS, MICHAEL 107,230.46
12 Fire  MARTIN, STEVEN 96,721.45
13 Police KERR, SCOTT 96,187.66
14 Police WEIR, VINCENT M 95,537.64
15 Fire   FRASIER, JAMES R 95,315.21
16 Police STACHO, JEFFREY M 93,279.84
17 Fire   DYER JR, AL 92,080.18
18 Police SANT'ANGELO, WILLIAM 91,980.30
19 Fire   JEWELL, BRYAN 91,974.86
20 Fire  HARPER, MICHAEL 91,961.77
This amount includes overtime and is part of the past but could easily be contractually a part of the future. While they will never admit it, because it is illegal, I have known a number of police and firemen over the years that bragged about the fact that they would work their time off to manipulate overtime for themselves and their friends. I have been told that they do not do that in Lincoln Park and that it is only a result of understaffing. I find that difficult to believe. If you have access to the internet I suggest that you read the contracts that are listed on the city website.
Please do not be deceived and surrender your right to vote on future taxes to a pension board that you do not elect. Remember this change is permanent. If housing starts to increase in value, the amount of dollars you pay will probably only go up with no benefits of the Headlee rollback.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Let's Learn From History

While I like a lot of what Trump has to say, he has to get much more specific for me. He keeps referencing bringing the jobs and production home, he does not say how he will do it.  I believe I have heard the word tariff twice out of his mouth.  If that is his plan, he has to be very careful.
"Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." The Great Depression lasted much longer as a result of that policy.

 Smoot-Hawley   Department of State.

The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of June 1930 raised U.S. tariffs to historically high levels. The original intention behind the legislation was to increase the protection afforded domestic farmers against foreign agricultural imports. Massive expansion in the agricultural production sector outside of Europe during World War I led, with the post-war recovery of European producers, to massive agricultural overproduction during the 1920s. This in turn led to declining farm prices during the second half of the decade. During the 1928 election campaign, Republican presidential candidate Herbert Hoover pledged to help the beleaguered farmer by, among other things, raising tariff levels on agricultural products. But once the tariff schedule revision process got started, it proved impossible to stop. Calls for increased protection flooded in from industrial sector special interest groups, and soon a bill meant to provide relief for farmers became a means to raise tariffs in all sectors of the economy. When the dust had settled, Congress had agreed to tariff levels that exceeded the already high rates established by the 1922 Fordney-McCumber Act and represented among the most protectionist tariffs in U.S. history.
The Smoot-Hawley Tariff was more a consequence of the onset of the Great Depression than an initial cause. But while the tariff might not have caused the Depression, it certainly did not make it any better. It provoked a storm of foreign retaliatory measures and came to stand as a symbol of the "beggar-thy-neighbor" policies (policies designed to improve one's own lot at the expense of that of others) of the 1930s. Such policies contributed to a drastic decline in international trade. For example, U.S. imports from Europe declined from a 1929 high of $1,334 million to just $390 million in 1932, while U.S. exports to Europe fell from $2,341 million in 1929 to $784 million in 1932. Overall, world trade declined by some 66% between 1929 and 1934. More generally, Smoot-Hawley did nothing to foster trust and cooperation among nations in either the political or economic realm during a perilous era in international relations.
The Smoot-Hawley tariff represents the high-water mark of U.S. protectionism in the 20th century. Thereafter, beginning with the 1934 Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act, American commercial policy generally emphasized trade liberalization over protectionism. The United States generally assumed the mantle of champion of freer international trade, as evidenced by its support for the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Additional Reading:
Barry Eichengreen. "The Political Economy of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff," Research in Economic History, 12 (1989), pp. 1-43.
Douglas A. Irwin. "From Smoot-Hawley to Reciprocal Trade Agreements: Changing the Course of U.S. Trade Policy in the 1930s," in Michael D. Bordo, Claudia Goldin, and Eugene N. White, Editors, The Defining Moment: The Great Depression and the American Economy in the Twentieth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998).
Charles P. Kindleberger. The World in Depression, 1929-1939 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1973).
Peter Temin. Lessons from the Great Depression: The Lionel Robbins Lectures for 1989 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1989).

Monday, July 20, 2015

Change PA 236

Same principle. The Lansing legislature and governor.

Recently Wayne County transferred a judgment for $49 million to the tax bills of Wayne County taxpayers. The authorization they say comes from PA236 last amended three years before the Headlee amendment.  It is our contention that this was in error. Rather than fight this in court we have decided to permanently amend the statute to leave no doubt that this is illegal and bring it under the Headlee amendment without any doubt as to how the debt should be repaid.    
It is very difficult to identify as most people have escrow accounts and trust that payments for services received are what is being paid for from their taxes. This is a constant problem all across Michigan.

I am not an attorney and am asking for the assistance from those who are, for help with the correct wording.  I am also looking for legislators who would be willing to sponsor or cosponsor the legislation which ultimately requires that judgments come from the general fund of the local government or from voted funds under the restrictions of Headlee.  This might make it necessary to carry liability insurance or if self insured a catastrophic policy to safeguard  taxpayers. This is the my changed copy. Sugestions are appreciated.

600.6093 Recovery of judgment against township, village, city, or county.
Sec. 6093. (1) Whenever judgment is recovered against any township, village, or city, or against the trustees or common council, or officers thereof, in any action prosecuted by or against them in their name of office, the clerk of the court shall, on the application of the party in whose favor judgment is rendered, his attorney, executor, administrator, or assigns, make and deliver to the party so applying a certified transcript of the judgment, showing the amount and date thereof, with the rate of interest thereon, and of the costs as taxed under the seal of the court, if in a court having a seal. The party obtaining the certified transcript may file it with the supervisor of the township, if the judgment is against the township, or with the assessing officer or if the judgment is against a city or village. The supervisor or assessing officer receiving the certified transcript or transcripts of judgment shall proceed to assess the amount thereof with the costs and interests from the date of rendition of judgment to the time when the warrant for the collection thereof will expire.

The supervisor or assessing officer shall set forth in the warrant separately, stating the amount thereof and to whom payable, and it shall be returned in the same manner as other taxes.  The supervisor or assessing officer, at the time when he delivers the tax roll to the treasurer or collecting officer of any township, city, or village, shall deliver to the township clerk or to the clerk or recording officer of the city or, a statement in writing under his hand, setting forth in detail and separately the judgment stating the amount with costs and interest as herein provided, and to whom payable. The treasurer or collecting officer of the township, city, or village, shall  pay the judgment to the owner thereof or his attorney, on or before the date when the tax roll and warrant shall be returnable from the general fund budget, or funds authorized by the voters of the local unit of government, or insurance carried by the local unit of government.  If the local unit of government is self insured and the award is greater than funds set aside for such purposes, they are required to carry catastrophic insurance as a safeguard for the taxpayers. In case any supervisor, treasurer, or other assessing or collecting officer neglects or refuses to comply with any of the provisions of this section he shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and on conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $1,000.00 and costs of prosecution, or imprisonment in the county jail for a period not exceeding 3 months, or by both fine and imprisonment in the discretion of the court. Nothing herein contained shall be construed to exclude other remedies given by law for the enforcement of the judgment.

(2) In any case where a judgment is recovered against a village which, by reason of holding no municipal elections, or for any other reason has no available assessing officer within the jurisdiction of the court wherein the judgment is rendered, the owner of the judgment or any person knowing the facts, acting on behalf of the owner, may make an affidavit showing that the village against which a judgment is pending and unsatisfied, has no available assessing officer within the jurisdiction, and file it with the clerk of the court wherein the judgment is written. The officer who makes the certified transcript shall attach thereto a copy of the affidavit, the correctness of which copy shall also be certified to in the certificate. Any party receiving the certified transcript of judgment and affidavit may file it with the supervisor of the township in which the village, having no assessing officer is located.

(3) When judgment is recovered against any county or the board of supervisors or any county officer in an action prosecuted by or against him in his name of office, the judgment unless reversed shall be paid from the general fund budget, voted funds or insurance.  If the local unit of government chooses to self insure they must also carry catastrophic insurance in case the award exceeds the amount set aside for such purposes as other county charges, and when collected shall be paid by the county treasurer to the person to whom the judgment has been adjudged upon the delivery of a proper voucher therefor.
History:   1961, Act 236, Eff. Jan. 1, 1963;    Am. 1974, Act 297, Eff. Apr. 1