You are about to be pitted against your own local government in a battle for your remaining income.
Why? Plummeting home values are (belatedly) slamming municipal governments and school districts with lower property tax revenues. Now these local governments are starting to panic. They see just one way of protecting their budgets - by going after more of yours.
As their tax revenues fall, some local politicians will simply vote to raise property taxes. Others need to ask voters to approve higher taxes because they already tax at the maximum rate permitted without a vote of the people. These local officials will carefully select the most obscure election day possible to place the tax hike on the ballot, hoping that government employees will vote while most citizens remain unaware.
DEFEATING THE COMING PROPERTY TAX INCREASES ISN'T ENOUGH
Even if voters defeat these tax hikes, you still lose. Why? Because nearly every school district and city hall is locked into unbelievably generous contracts with government employee labor unions. These contracts guarantee expensive perks that ordinary citizens would never imagine.
For example, many government employees are allowed to retire at an early age (age 50 in some communities). Other government employee benefits include platinum-clad health care (some plans even cover massages) and paid vacation days far beyond what's affordable in the private sector.
In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, local school and government employees enjoy benefits that cost almost twice as much as the benefits of the average full-time private-sector worker. Not to mention far better job security and higher wages.
Your local government isn't alone. Across the country, politicians have been caving to the increasingly outrageous demands of government employee unions. For decades, these unions locked-in jackpot pensions and other lucrative benefits that are now coming due. States like California are already collapsing under the weight of these past promises.
Why can't elected officials just cut the cost of these government employee benefits? Because the benefits are locked into contracts that your school board and local politicians already signed.
POLITICIANS WILL FORCE CITIZENS - NOT BUREAUCRATS - TO BEAR THE COSTS OF THEIR BAD DECISIONS
Due to the folly of signing these contracts, the only thing left for school districts and local governments to do is to raise taxes or lay off employees. If voters reject tax hikes, politicians will start laying off teachers, police officers, firefighters and such (of course, upper-level bureaucrats will NEVER be laid off, no matter what). These local politicians will threaten to make the service cuts they think will hurt citizens the most in order to scare voters into approving the tax hikes.
To stop both of these tactics, you and your neighbors would have to attend every township or city meeting, school board and county commission meeting in your community and fight against tax hike efforts while trying to convince your local politicians to reduce government employee benefit costs. You can’t win.
Or can you?
THE MTA HAS A REVOLUTIONARY PLAN THAT PUTS CITIZENS FIRST - AND COULD RESCUE OUR STATE
If local politicians won't address these outrageous costs - and they've demonstrated that they won't - why not go over their heads? What if local politicians were prohibited from providing benefits to government employees that exceed the cost of benefits in the private sector? In other words, what if there was a cap on the amount that government employee benefits could cost?
According to fiscal analysts at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, if every state, local government and public school employee in Michigan were provided benefits that cost the same as private-sector benefits, Michigan taxpayers would save about $5.7 billion!
How much is $5.7 billion? The despised Michigan Business tax will send about $2.3 billion to Lansing this year. The entire state income tax will send a total of $6.5 billion to Lansing's big-spenders. That's right, just by capping benefit costs of government employees at private sector levels, we could cut the state income tax in half AND completely eliminate the state business tax.
Michigan could become one of only five states with no tax on job providers and Michigan's struggling families could see their state income taxes cut in half!
A huge tax cut with no reduction in government services? All by simply capping government employee benefit costs at private sector levels? My friend, a change like this could be enough to rescue Michigan!
AMENDING THE CONSTITUTION IS HARD WORK (AND RIGHTLY SO)
But is it possible? It would take an amendment to the state constitution.
The Michigan Taxpayers Alliance is interested in researching whether this tantalizing possibility could become a reality, but we need your help.
Amending the constitution requires loads of research and legwork - and that costs money. For example, in order for the amendment to be air-tight and "tricky-politician proof" it would have to be written by top-notch experts on constitutional law and be researched by qualified labor law attorneys. And detailed economic analysis would have to be done by highly-competent economists. Amending the constitution is difficult (as it should be), and is therefore expensive.
But imagine for a moment that the citizens of Michigan DID collect the 380,000 valid signatures to put this amendment to the state constitution on the 2010 ballot. Every radio talk show host, editorial board and media outlet would suddenly be talking about the (previously hidden) costs of government employee benefits. Citizens would suddenly have a chance to see just how unfair these jackpot benefits are to taxpayers.
"RESCUE MICHIGAN" WOULD BE A GAME-CHANGING EVENT
What if this ballot proposal (let's call it "Rescue Michigan") were adopted by voters in November of 2010? The impacts would include: • Significantly slashing the tax burden on businesses and families, • Protecting core services, • Eliminating deficits, and • Overnight making Michigan a magnet for investment and new job providers
This "Rescue Michigan" initiative would be a bold, unprecedented and sweeping reform - the game-changer our state desperately needs. Never before has such an amendment to the constitution been considered in any state. But then, no state has ever been in the fix that Michigan finds itself in today.
But every other state, in the midst of their growing economic meltdowns, would know what Michiganders did. Those states' taxpayers would have an example of a new solution for their own state's budget implosion - the "Michigan solution."
Michigan is desperate. And the benefit costs of our public servants (including politicians) have been very quietly skyrocketing for decades. We need to fix this problem if we want to fix Michigan's problems. The "Rescue Michigan" constitutional amendment is a solution that may be the most important reform measure ever adopted in this state.
Again, it won’t be cheap or easy. Collecting the signatures will cost over $1 million, and then there’s the cost of winning a "yes" vote from voters in the election. But from a return-on-investment perspective, such a constitutional amendment would be the deal of the century: nearly six billion dollars returned to taxpayers - every year!
WILL YOU STEP UP FOR THE GOOD OF OUR STATE?
To make the "Rescue Michigan" proposal viable, the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance needs your help. We need citizen-activists and ordinary taxpayers willing to help fund the legal drafting and "ballot testing" that are a critical first hurdles for any serious ballot measure.
Will you help us rescue Michigan?
If you send a donation, I promise you that every dime will go toward drafting, researching and organizing the “Rescue Michigan” solution. Someone, somewhere in Michigan has got to take the lead if we are to have any hope of climbing out of the economic dumpheap we’re in. The MTA can take that lead, but not without resources to make it possible.
We need you to take the lead with us. We need you to contribute to the solution.
Or, we can sit and wait. Maybe the politicians in Lansing will save us? Maybe President Obama will send ever larger stimulus checks every year, trying to prop up our state, local government and school budgets? Maybe our local officials and school boards will suddenly muster the courage to confront the unions and force them to make reasonable concessions?
But you know the truth: It’s in our hands. It’s up to us to stand up and make something happen ourselves.
Don’t wait. Help now.
NO FIGHT WORTH HAVING IS EVER EASY
I know you probably have questions about this proposal. Will it work? Will it hold up in court? Could it be written to prevent end-runs? Will "big money" donors contribute?
The answers depend on how carefully the rescue Michigan amendment is constructed, but yes, it CAN work.
Guarantees? None, besides my personal pledge to, as Mr. Churchill said, give my "blood, sweat, toil and tears" to make it happen. This is a big idea and gaining victory is a major challenge.
I'll be frank, the ways we could come up short are many. After all the research and legwork, it may happen that not enough resources are found to make a ballot drive possible. I don't have all the answers, but I do know that any idea meaningful enough to have a huge impact will also face huge obstacles.
I WOULD KNOW - I'VE AMENDED THE CONSTITUTION BEFORE
I understand these obstacles. Back in 2003, I became Chairman of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative constitutional amendment. MCRI would ban the government from giving preferential treatment to people based on race or ethnicity in government hiring, contracting and college admissions. It took three years of work against enormous odds to collect over 500,000 signatures and qualify the MCRI for the 2006 ballot - but the job got done and voters overwhelmingly approved the amendment.
OUR ECONOMY NEEDS "RESCUE MICHIGAN" IMMEDIATELY. THE MTA CAN LEAD - CAN YOU HELP?
Every important idea has obstacles and risks, but the biggest risk is to do nothing. Our state's economy is NOT going to magically fix itself while burdened with high taxes and exorbitantly expensive government employee benefits.
I understand that there are other ideas to help fix Michigan. Reforming labor laws, adopting the Fair Tax, making the legislature "part-time" and other ideas are all important, but no potential solution to our state's problems would provide a more immediate reduction in government spending and taxes.
I’ll do the necessary groundwork, I just need you to please help with the costs - even a little. Let me get started. I know how to build a team that can get this done, but that team needs to include you.
It's in our hands - your hands. Will you work with me to rescue Michigan?
Please make a contribution in whatever amount you can afford to the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance. Rescue Michigan is the best hope we have for a fast and dramatic turnaround. Your contribution funds the best strategy to win a fight that we didn't ask for, but that we MUST win.
Leon Drolet Director, MI Taxpayers Alliance www.mitaxpayers.org
P.S . The MI Taxpayers Alliance is a federally registered 501c4 (an activist organization) — not a 501c3 (a charitable organization). Donations are NOT tax deductible. Corporate checks ARE permissible.
P.S.S. We won’t give up, but we need your support so that Michigan’s government-class, big-government statists know they are in for a fight. Your contribution gives the MTA a real chance to win.
The WCTA was organized in March of 1982 because of a deep concern over rapidly escalating and unjust property tax assessments. We are a non-profit, non-partisan volunteer taxpayer organization dedicated to obtaining fiscal integrity and responsibility from all levels of government.
In July of 1982, we incorporated with the State of Michigan and proceeded to build our membership. We have resolved that our elected officials should be more accountable to their constituents for their actions.
We believe that individuals can be effective but that together we can be even more effective. We hold regular membership meetings and also sponsor special and educational meetings on topics of interest to our members and the general community.
Only through a vigilant watch of the government can taxpayers ensure that our government is operating responsibly and efficiently.
Information is a very important ingredient of the WCTA. Our newsletter is sent to all members and we try to keep them apprised of existing and pending legislation that will directly affect their lives.
Contact us at: http://www.wctaxpayers.org