Thursday, May 10, 2012

Lets Get It Done

There will be many issues that various groups will be attempting to place on the November 2012 ballot.  The Wayne County Taxpayers Association has chosen to actively support two of them. Once again I am asking for your help. We hope that you will help us collect signatures for these proposals to insure that they make it to the ballot.
In 1978 the voters amended Article 9, Section 6, of the State Constitution, and made additions to Article 9, Sections 25 thru 34, to provide for Tax Limitation.” This is most commonly known as the Headlee Amendment.
The people thought by voting for this that there would be no unauthorized tax increases without a vote of the people. However, over the years they have been proven wrong.   Taxpayers, including myself, have been to court numerous times and the outcomes have been inconsistent. Government and the courts seem to have found a way to get around the constitution to the disadvantage of the taxpayer.
We are hoping the proposal on the petition we are circulating in conjunction with the “Michigan Alliance for Prosperity” will finally stop them at the state level. The petition language reads as follows:
“A proposal to amend the Michigan Constitution by adding a Section 26a to Article Nine. No new or additional taxes shall be imposed by the state government, nor shall it expand the base of taxation, nor shall it increase the rate of taxation unless: (a) by the vote of two-thirds of all the elected member of each branch of the Legislature or (b) by a statewide vote of Michigan electors at a November election. This section shall in no way be construed to limit or modify tax limitations otherwise created in this constitution.”

We hope that this will stop the shell game of different taxes at the state levels while still constraining increases within the established limits. This shell game has significant effect and consequences for both business and individual taxpayers. Once a tax has been reduced or eliminated it will no longer be an easy task to create a new one to replace it by a simple majority.
We know that similar provisions in 13 other states have proven successful and that precedent has been established in the Michigan Constitution. Two examples are:
  1. 1.    A 2/3 legislative majority was required to assume new debt to pay off debt owed by the Mackinac Bridge Authority.
  2. 2.    A ¾ majority is required to raise the education tax

The second proposal is concerning the building and maintaining of any additional international crossings.  The proposal reads as follows:

 “The People should decide whether state government may construct or finance new international bridges or tunnels for motor vehicles. Consistent with this policy and to shield the people from unnecessary burdens, the state shall not undertake ownership and the development or use of state funds or resources for new international bridges or tunnels for motor vehicles unless first determined to be necessary and appropriate by majority vote of the people.”
They have indicated that the funding for the project will be paid by the tolls generated. There is no guarantee that the taxpayer will not have to pick up any shortfall for the construction and operation of the bridge proposed by Governor Snyder.  The objection of the legislature and the majority of the people seemed to have little effect on his decision to proceed. Reduction in crossings and state population, in our estimation,  insures the taxpayer will be responsible for the shortfall in revenue.  If we are going to have to pay for it, we should at least have a say in whether it should be built. That goes for any other construction of that magnitude for those purposes.
Placing decisions for such massive projects on the ballot would result in a discussion of both the merits and liabilities of the issue before we commit taxpayer resources.

Please get involved.  Contact me and I will see that you are contacted by the appropriate people and are sent the petitions you need. Please don’t think that someone else will do it.  We need your help. Lansing has gotten out of control.
Rose Bogaert, Chair
Wayne County Taxpayers Association, Inc