Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Vote NO For Sales Tax Increase May 5

The Board of State Canvassers is scheduled to meet this Thursday to adopt final language for the proposal.
Concerned Taxpayers of Michigan is on the Web athttp://michigantaxpayers.com.
The letter delivered by Rep. McMillin reads:
Christopher Thomas, Director of Elections
Bureau of Elections
430 West Allegan St
Lansing, MI 48933
CC: State Board of Canvassers
Dear Director Thomas:
Thank you for providing draft ballot proposal language to the public this past Friday and providing an additional opportunity for public comment before the language is finalized.
The new language makes many significant improvements over the language suggested by the state House in HCR 39 of 2014. First, it clearly states that the state sales tax is increased to 7%. Second, it notes that the motor fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees are increased. Third, it notes some of the other laws that go into effect if and only if the proposal is passed.
However, there are still several shortcomings in the proposed language in the view of Concerned Taxpayers of Michigan, an organization I represent.
First, while the proposed explanatory language does mention of some of the ten laws activated by the proposal, it remains our position that the effect of all ten of these laws, including affirmative action for transportation companies, must be noted in the proposal language.
Each of these laws was distinctive enough to have its own bill number, its own vote by both chambers of the legislature, and its own governor's signature.
There is no mention of Public Act 473, which requires the Department of Transportation to accord preferential treatment to "disadvantaged" businesses. Voters have the right to know that they are activating affirmative action laws in this proposal.
Second, while the language of the explanatory statement is improved, the title of the proposal itself is still misleading, particularly by noting the repeal of sales taxes on gas while omitting mention of the replacement wholesale taxes found in the ten laws activated by the proposal.
Yet in the explanation that follows, dedicating revenue for roads is the last point of the second bullet in a list of what these other laws do.
The language of the explanation affirms that the most important aspects of these ten additional laws are the sales tax increase, gas tax increase, and vehicle registration tax increases. Furthermore, to describe the other laws as including "dedicating revenue for roads and other transportation purposes" suggests that each of the laws relates to dedicating revenue for roads, when several of them have nothing to do with roads.
The title should reflect this by saying, for example "OTHER LAWS THAT INCLUDE INCREASED TAXES ON SALES AND FUEL, AND UNRELATED MATTERS."
Third, there is no mention anywhere in the ballot language that a major portion of the revenue is going to mass transit, which is of interest to the large portion of Michigan residents who do not live in an area served by any mass transit (or do live in such area, but feel it is a massive waste of taxpayer money).
The explanatory language comes to exactly the maximum 100 words if each of the four slashes are counted as their own words. Removing the spaces surrounding the slashes reduces the word count to 96. Therefore, it is simple to insert "mass transit" into the bullet point: "Increase motor fuel tax on gasoline/diesel fuel and vehicle registration fees, and dedicate revenue for roads, mass transit, and other transportation purposes."
Fourth, regarding the earned income tax credit, it would be more specific to note it is doubled, not just increased.
Fifth, there is no mention that the vehicle registration fees will no longer be tax deductible for federal taxes, costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. This is an important cost for voters to be aware of.
Sixth, it is an oversimplification to note the proposal requires competitive bidding and warranties for road projects, which applies only in particular circumstances.
Seventh, the language mentions dedicating money for the SAF, but not increasing money to schools.
Eighth, a statement of the total tax/revenue increase, per the Senate or House fiscal agency, would be appropriate to convey to voters the total cost of all the tax increases contained in the proposal.
While I applaud your efforts to improve upon the language of the proposal from what was recommended by the state House and other actors interested in raising these taxes on Michigan, more is needed to present voters with an accurate presentation of the effect of the proposal.
At the minimum, it should be clear that the taxes on fuel being replaced, not simply "repealed" or "eliminated." Each of the ten laws, including the law requiring affirmative action for road projects, must be mentioned, as must the increased funding for schools and public transportation.
Failing these changes, we must maintain that the language misleads voters by omitting these important facts.
Thanks again for your continued work on this issue. Please don't hesitate to contact me if I can be of assistance.
Best regards,
Rep. Tom McMillin (ret.)
Concerned Taxpayers of Michigan
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