Saturday, October 13, 2012

STOP the shell game and END the “Temporary Tax”

This is a familiar story, where a tax is created for one purpose, then diverted to another in a political shell game at the Capitol, when it really should have gone away.
Twenty-five years ago, in 1987, a special tax was created in Wayne County, a 30% tax on parking at and around Detroit Metro Airport that raised about $8 million annually.
It was designed as a bailout for an earlier Wayne County fiscal crisis. It was supposed to go away in 2010 when the bailout debt was paid off, but in typical style, the debt is gone but the tax remains.
Currently the tax brings in $21.5 million annually,and has raised over $340 million in the last 25
years. Some goes to the State Aeronautics Fund. Some goes to the City of Romulus. Most goes to Wayne County, not to solve a fiscal crisis or to support airport operations, but to fund indigent health care.
Now Senate Bill 1257 plays another shell game with this tax money. Under this bill, most of the revenue would be diverted to pay for Medicaid.There’s no tax like this at any other airport in Michigan. And there’s no good reason the business and vacation travelers who park their cars at Metro Airport should pay a special tax to fund Medicaid. Medicaid is for the entire state, not just a handful of travelers.And there’s a good reason to stop this diversion of funds dead in its tracks: it most likely violates federal law and common sense. Two different federal laws say you

can’t tax airport travelers and divert the funds away from air travel.
Furthermore, it’s the diversion of money off the Airport to the County that prompted the legislature to make the Airport a body independent of Wayne County 10 years ago. That legislation was supposed to separate the Airport financially from the County, now it’s time to finish what was started over a decade ago.
Enough is enough. Twenty-five years have passed and now is the time to repeal the airport parking tax.
Temporary taxes should be temporary, and shouldn’t live on just because politicians get
addicted to the money. But if they’re going to keep levying this tax, every dime of the revenue should be earmarked directly for the airport – improving its safety, security and operational effectiveness for the traveling public. Taxing the parking at the airport is an airport user fee. And money from an airport user fee should stay at the airport.


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Anonymous said...

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