MPA blasts ‘below-the-belt’ taxesPublished 8:00am Thursday, September 3, 2009
LANSING – On the eve of the Labor Day holiday observance, the Michigan Petroleum Association and Michigan Association of Convenience Stores (MPA/MACS), which represents more than 1,500 independent gas station and convenience store owner-members, says Lansing politicians want to raise motor fuel and cigarette taxes at the expense of people, employed and unemployed alike, who are finding it difficult to make ends meet.
“We take pause this Labor Day weekend to honor the hard-working men and women who made the state of Michigan a great place to live, work and raise a family, but the politicians in Lansing who advocate increasing state motor fuel and cigarette taxes risk doing so on the backs of our families who can least afford it,” said Mark Griffin, president of MPA/MACS.
“In a state like Michigan which has suffered more than any other in the worst recession since the Great Depression, raising consumer taxes is the last thing Lansing politicians should be doing, especially with Michigan’s record unemployment and struggling economy. Now is not the time to add more tax burdens on Michigan consumers by increasing motor fuel and cigarette taxes.
“The irony of Lansing’s attempt to sock it to working people by increasing more taxes speaks volumes about how out of touch some politicians can be on the eve of a national holiday that’s intended to honor working men and women,” said Griffin.
“This duel consumer tax increase proposal supported by Lansing politicians is nothing more than a one-two sucker punch right in the gut of Michigan consumers and gas station owners. Further, increasing Michigan taxes on gas and cigarettes will harm Michigan’s economy which has had years of decline with no rebound in sight,” said Griffin.
“We’ve seen our cost go up almost 80 cents per gallon since mid-March as the price of a barrel of crude oil has risen, and higher taxes will make our costs go up even more,” said Griffin. “When gas prices go up, nearly every business needs to increase product prices in order to cover their extra costs. Consumers have less disposable income as they spend more on gasoline. That means consumers spend less, businesses sell less and Michigan’s economy suffers. Michigan is already one of the highest gas tax states in the nation. We don’t want to be known as the nation’s highest gas tax state.”
On cigarette taxes, Griffin said Michigan already has one of the highest cigarette taxes in the nation, at $2 per pack.
If another 25-cent tax hike is enacted, it will cost Michigan retailers more than $6 million in sales per year and reduce the amount of legal cigarette packs sold by more than $15 million.
Further, it will add to our state’s $138 million cigarette smuggling problem, which was created by our state’s exorbitant tax rate.
Local, family-owned gas station owners, who MPA/MACS represents, will be hit particularly hard, as they make little or sometimes no profit selling gas and rely on purchases inside their store to stay afloat.
When customers spend more at the pump, they spend less inside the store for items such as pop, candy and cigarettes, which would be even more expensive under the tax increase plan.
More than 90 percent of Michigan gas stations are locally owned and operated family-run businesses – not big oil.
“MPA/MACS members are truly neighbors serving neighbors, local gas station and convenience store owners that live and work in our communities, and who provide jobs for local people,” said Griffin.
The Michigan Petroleum Association and Michigan Association of Convenience Stores exists to serve the state’s independent petroleum marketers and convenience store operators.
MPA/MACS has 550 member companies with more than 1,500 retail locations.
MPA/MACS members employ more than 15,000 people statewide in all of Michigan’s 83 counties.