Wednesday, August 19, 2009

From the MTA

Dear Michigan Taxpayer,

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.


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.


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?


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!


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.


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!


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.


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 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.


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

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.

©2009 | Michigan Taxpayers Alliance | 46116 Lookout Drive | Macomb | MI | 48044

Monday, August 17, 2009

Plymouth Health Care Rally

On a very windy Sunday in Plymouth, Michigan people gathered. I apologize for the poor sound and video quality but I thought you should see the angry mob and the truth about those who oppose health care reform.

As you can see they are a well organized mob and their attire indicates their subversiveness. They obviously do not know how to protest properly. No fires. No broken glass. No police in riot gear. What a disgrace. Flags and signs - how unoriginal. What we need are our legislators who know how to drain the last drop of blood from people to show them how to make a real mess.

Just remember. Sticks and stones may break your bones but names will never hurt you. Personally I like walk softly and carry a big stick.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Trust Me

I have been watching every one of President Obama's meetings on health care. He has been inconsistent, his analogies have been poor and he has lied or been misinformed on what has been contained in the health care bills.

He comes off charming, friendly and down to earth, most of the time, and at others haughty and superior. The thing that troubles me the most is that he talks as if he knows what he is talking about. There are a number of bills in the House and the Senate. None have been completed and all,to the best of my understanding, have some undesirable qualities. How can you do anything but listen to concerns under those circumstances?

Those in Congress seem to know even less. They do not seem to know what is in the bill they are sponsoring. I'm not sure they have even read them.

The people of this country are right to be angry. We have turned our heads for long enough. Our attention is required to keep our great country. We can not continue to elect people without checking their credentials and values. We need to hold them accountable and demand that they keep their promises. We can not allow those we elect to call us names and denigrate us.

Get involved and, if they refuse to hear us, then we must remove them from office and replace them with someone who will. This is not a partisan problem it is a universal problem. They have awakened the giant now let's give them something to remember.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Unorganized Mob

When I arrived early it was already too late to get in. Congressman Dingell's Town Hall Meeting was packed. Large numbers of union supporters were already seated in a room that holds only 150 people. The rest in attendance I can not account for. The real story is the hundreds outside the building who could not get in.

I have to give Mrs. Dingell credit. She came outside to talk to some of those standing around. So why are people so upset? They are tired of getting form letters which don't address the subject. They are tired of the phone being taken off the hook at the legislative offices. They are really tired of being called names and being described as fronts for other organizations.

As I walked up and down the line talking to people I asked some of them why they came. Most were fed up and were tired of being thought to be stupid. Some heard about it on the radio, some on the television and some from organizations to which they belong. They do not feel misinformed because they feel that even the legislators do not know what is involved.

They can do the math and know from experience that congress and presidents make mistakes and sometimes tell bold face lies to achieve their objectives. The older people know medicare is in trouble. They are upset that their benefits and services may be cut to take care of illegal aliens. They observe the poor quality of health care delivery in one payer systems and have no desire for death counseling every 5 years as a substitution for good medical care.

This discussion is far from over. Citizens are encouraged to fight back with every non-violent measure possible. Socialism does not work, fascism does not work but capitalism does. It has provided us with the best country on earth. Take time to preserve it.