Archived Story

William Crandell: State can’t afford more taxes, bad roads or not

Published 9:13am Thursday, February 21, 2013

By William Crandell

The Democratic Voice

Everyone knows the roads of our state are getting bad. Michigan now ranks second in the nation for having the worst roads, according to the trucker magazine Overdrive. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave our roads a “D” grade. In Gov. Snyder’s new budget proposal, he would like to raise $1.2 billion annually to pay for road repairs. He intends to do so by increasing the vehicle registration tax and nearly doubling the current gasoline and diesel tax. Both political parties in Lansing are divided over this issue and both the state house and the state senate are looking at alternative solutions to the governor’s proposal. But the fact is the last thing the people of Michigan need are more taxes. About half of Michigan tax payers will see an increase in what they owe in state income tax this year and now is not the time to further raise the financial burden upon working families.

The tax increases that will go into affect this year were actually passed in 2011 to offset the $1.8 billion in tax breaks the governor gave to corporations. These tax breaks have yet to produce any new jobs and corporations continue to boast record profits. Under the governor’s new budget proposal the vehicle registration fee will increase by 60 percent for cars and 25 percent for heavy trucks. He also intends to increase the gas and diesel tax to 33 cents per gallon — an increase of 74 percent for gasoline and a 120 percent increase for diesel.

It remains to be seen whether the governor will get this aspect of his budget passed. Many Michigan Republicans do not approve of the governor’s tax increases and are looking at alternative ways to raise the money for road repairs. Some have expressed concern over the growing number of hybrid cars that would basically be exempt from the gas tax, causing the state to lose much-needed revenue. They feel hybrid owners should be charged more in registration fees and that should be included in the new budget. Michigan also charges a 6 cent sales tax on gasoline that goes into the general fund instead of the transportation fund. That money could be diverted, which would generate an additional $1 billion per year for roads. Sen. Randy Richardville introduced an alternative plan that would raise the state sales tax by 2 cents, eliminating the current gas and diesel tax and forcing everyone to contribute equally to repairing our roads. However, retailers are already howling that an increase in sales tax would kill jobs in Michigan.

But the big question remains: Why does Gov. Snyder — when faced with a need to create new revenue — force the poor and middle class to suffer cuts to much needed services or pay additional taxes?

The impoverished of this state are the fastest growing segment of Michigan’s population and thanks to Snyder’s failed economic policies they cannot afford another increase.

Why not look at other sources such as the overage in the slush fund or eliminating some of the tax breaks to corporations that have accomplished nothing but make CEOs richer. Snyder has generated a profit for his rainy day fund with social services and education cuts; now he should use that profit to help the people.

A recent EPIC-MRA poll found that 61 percent of Michigan voters say that they do not approve of the job that Gov. Snyder is doing. I think the people of this state are making it clear they are tired of paying extra taxes while corporations get all the breaks. We need to fix our roads but everyone needs to pay their fair share.

Eliminate the corporate tax breaks and we could have the best roads in the nation.

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