On July 9 the political group Michigan Citizens for Strong and Safe Communities issued a statement that State Senator Gretchen Whitmer had changed her mind on her previous objections to Proposal 1 and would be voting yes for it on August 5 during the primary election. Senator Whitmer was one of two Democratic Party senators who voted against the bill that requires the citizens to approve the change to the tax code in a referendum vote.
Proposal 1 will approve or not approve a package of bills currently waiting in the state senate to eliminate the personal property tax on businesses and instead shift the money local municipalities rely on to function to the state use tax. The problem with this plan is there is no way the state use tax can ever come close to raising as much revenue that the PPT raises. When there is a shortfall, the state government insists the rest can come out of the general fund.
This would be the same general fund that earlier this year the state learned would suffer a $900 million shortfall over the next two years and require even more cuts to the state budget. Cities, townships, and school districts all over the state already struggle to keep police, firefighters, and schools open, so this tax cut for business appears to make the situation even worse.
Senator Whitmer however believes this won’t be a problem:
“The Senate bill to put this proposal on the ballot left large questions that I felt needed to be answered, particularly addressing the potential financial impacts on local schools and first responders,” said Whitmer. “With the improvements that were made to this proposal in the State House and subsequent analysis by local government officials and fiscal agencies, I am comfortable that my concerns have been addressed and that this move won’t put our local communities at further financial risk.”
Senator Whitmer’s concerns have been addressed, but the concerns many in the state should have as the primary election is only weeks away need to be put to rest. How can Michigan, a state that can’t fix it’s roads or properly fund public schools be able to rely on a tax that in some circumstances is a voluntary tax not everyone pays? Revenue sharing from the state to local cities and townships has a very poor track record with a dismal outcome we are witnessing in our largest city, Detroit, right now. Insisting that the “job creators” need another tax cut in this state is obtuse at the very least.
Perhaps Senator Whitmer could share with the citizens of this state what specifically changed her mind about Proposal 1? Until then, Up North Progressive emphatically recommends the state vote NO on this proposal on August 5.