Mar 18, 2009

Senate Republicans continue budget-busting moves to curry favor with voters

LANSING – Michigan Senate Republicans continue to give the store away with no regard for the state of the current budget in a thinly disguised move to curry favor with voters when they campaign for election in 2010.

This time they introduced Senate Joint Resolution H Tuesday that would amend the state Constitution to ban a property's taxable value from increasing any year its assessed value decreases. According to the nonpartisan Senate Fiscal Agency, it would cost state and local governments $253 million in revenues and local schools $75 million. This is money used for police, fire, keeping streets cleared of ice and snow and many other things.

“This is coming from the party that says that we care about law enforcement,” said Sen. Gretchen Whiter, D-East Lansing. “Well, we can’t enact sentencing reform because we don’t want to look soft on crime. Do you know what makes up the largest portion of municipalities’ budgets? Police—public safety.”

Some homeowners have complained that their property taxes are increasing while the value of their home is falling. However, under Proposal A passed in 1994 when property values were rising so fast that many senior citizens could no longer afford to stay in their homes because of the increasing property taxes, property tax increases were capped at the rate of inflation or 5 percent, which ever is less. Proposal A represented a very large cut in the property taxes of homeowners, and continues to protect homeowners from exorbitant increases. Unfortunately, while property values might decline, inflation has continued, so taxes have continued to rise at that rate, currently about 3 percent.

Clearly, proposal A contains important provisions to protect property owners from excessive increases in taxes when property values are increasing. Similar protections do not exist, however, to ensure property taxes do not increase when values are declining.

Senator Deb Cherry, D-Flint, said the resolution perpetuates inequity because Proposal A has held taxes down for people who have owned the home for years, but when the home is sold the taxable value pops up to meet the assessed value, and those people who buy the home are paying a higher tax than people who have owned a home for many years.

“Senate Joint Resolution H offers tax benefits to property owners who are already seeing reduced taxation compared to their neighbors due to Proposal A,” she said. “Senate Joint Resolution H seeks to disrupt the natural economic market and create an artificial barrier to change.”

For a Constitutional Amendment to be approved, it requires a two-thirds vote, which is 25 votes. It failed on a 23-11, but three Senators were absent and the Republicans moved to reconsider the vote at another date.

This budget-busting and showy move that was introduced solely so that Republicans can get on the stump and say they are tax-cutters comes on the heels of a similar move last week by Senate Republicans to bust the budget to make themselves look good.

They approved a bill that would amend the Michigan Business Tax (MBT) to make it easier to receive a tax credit against the MBT, and it increased the income limits affecting eligibility of CEOs who can get the credit from $180,000 a year to $210,000. The bill could reduce state revenues by $47 million. They also approved two more bills that will cost the state $80.6 million and at least $144 million in lost tax revenue, including another $106 million from the School Aid Fund.


Not Anonymous said...

Quote from your writing:
"This budget-busting and showy move that was introduced solely so that Republicans can get on the stump and say they are tax-cutters comes on the heels of a similar move last week by Senate Republicans to bust the budget to make themselves look good."

You're surprised that politicians would actually pass legislation that pleases the people they are elected to represent so that they can get re-elected and even gain seats in the next election?

The job of an elected official is to represent the people. If the people want the tax cuts, then the elected official seems to be doing his/her job.

The only possible answer to this is that you believe that politicians know what's best for the people.

Politicians that raise taxes and claim it solves the budget problems, but then the next year they are again operating with another deficit.

THis is why the Socialist Democrats will lose seats in the next election both Statewide and Nationally. This is why the Socialist in the White House will be just a one term president. He's spent and spent and spent. Now he's going to tax and tax and tax.

In the meantime, the teleprompter president is thanking himself for putting on a St. Patricks Day party.

I should probably remind you that Proposal A was a product of Debbie Stabenow.

The Socialist Democrats want to continue to tax more than a property is worth claiming that the money is needed to pay for fire and rescue. What they neglect to tell you is that if you need a firetruck or an ambulance at your house, the taxes aren't paying for it, your homeowners insurance does if you have that provision in your homeowners policy, after you receive a bill for the firetruck or ambulance coming to your house.

I find it refreshing that some politicians are actually following the will of the people who are already overtaxed in this state and trying to get taxes lowered.

If you feel that more tax money is needed, you're always welcome to send in extra money over and above what your tax bill is each year. You have no reason to complain if you don't send extra.

Communications guru said...

I guess I agree with you, and I’m not surprised that Republican politicians pass irresponsible legislation just to make themselves look good at the expense of good public policy. You must be one of the people complaining about the poor quality of the roads, but you don’t want to pay to fix them.

The job of an elected official is also to be a leader and make tough decisions, not to pander. I don’t like paying taxes, and I wish I didn’t have to pay them. But I want to know if my house caught on fire, somebody will be there to put it out, if someone breaks into my house the police will come when I call them and if it snows the roads will be cleared of ice and snow so I can get to work. So by your logic the good parents are the one who never say no to child and give them everything they want just because they ask?

Well, considering the people are politicians, and they have access to a lot more info than you do, the answer is yes.

There is no such thing as a “socialist Democrat” in this country, and that’s simply a fascist Republican talking point. I don’t think the Democrats will lose seats statewide, but the odds say they will nationally. The good news is Democrats will retain control of the U.S. House and Senate. But I will be out there knocking on doors to see that we don’t lose seats and we take the state Senate back. There is no “Socialist in the White House,” and you will be disappointed in four years; but not the country.

“The teleprompter president is thanking himself for putting on a St. Patrick’s Day party?” Wow, that’s all you got? The President uses a teleprompter? Say it aint’t so. Give me a break. Why are you not condemning the Irish Prime Minister for using a teleprompter?

I am well aware that Proposal A was “a product of Debbie Stabenow,” and I’m not saying there is anything wrong with it. It has saved homeowners millions of dollars.

Once again, there is no such thing as a “socialist Democrat” in this country, and that’s simply a fascist Republican talking point. You are wrong again; no one is taxing “more than a property is worth.” Under Proposal A, only half the value of a home is taxable.

I also believe you are wrong about insurance paying for fire and ambulance service. Some of the cost may be offset by that, but the Livingston County EMS, for instance, levies .5 mill for operation. I have no idea where you get the idea Michigan is over taxed.

I pay my fair share of taxes. See, unlike you, I don’t want something for nothing, and I believe paying taxes is the price of living in the greatest country in the world and that everyone paying a little benefits everyone.

Not Anonymous said...

There are 21 Republicans in the Senate. The vote today received 29 votes. So this is not a Republican only bill. There were 8 Democrats that joined the Republicans. I guess those Democrats are also looking to save their seats in 2010.

For a politician, the tough thing to do is to lower taxes. It may be easy in an election year, but we're not in an election year.

This vote only means that the people will decide on the taxes, not the politicians. It was also the people of Michigan that voted for Proposal A. Again, the will of the people.

I'm not surprised that you'd consider politicians more aware than the people of the state. Judging from the past two elections of Granholm for Governor, especially the last time, I'm almost inclined to agree with you.

Everyone paying a little in taxes is fine and necessary. But we don't pay a little in taxes. We pay more in income taxes than we did two years ago. We pay one of the highest rates of taxes on gasoline. We have a sales tax that increased with the choice of proposal A. Income taxes up. Sales taxes up. GAs taxes, up. So-called sin taxes, up. Have you ever looked at the taxes you pay on your telephone? Mine is 20% just for one phone. If you have two phones and a fax line, you pay the 911 fee for each phone.

If you want to get the bang for your buck when calling 911, you need to call on one phone, ask them to hold, call them on another phone and tell them the nature of your emergency and ask them to hold, then call them on the fax line to tell them where you live.

Regarding the billing for emergency vehicles to show up, it could be a local thing. I know that in three different cities that I lived in, all three charged extra, not just in taxes, but an actual bill for having the fire department out. In one of those places, the fee was $2,500 just for having them show up.

Yesterday, it was reported that Santa Barbara, CA is considering this as well.

It's similar to the schools. They get so much money per student. Enrollment has been dropping the past couple of years. The schools are complaining that they no longer get that money for those children that are no longer enrolled and want millage increases or more tax dollars from the state to make up for what they lost because they don't have as many students. If you don't have as many students, your costs are reduced. You're not entitled to larger amounts of money just because students move out of state.

I suspect that if the people had the choice of choosing proposal A and another proposal for the higher sales tax, A would have won and a higher sales tax would have lost. But we were never given that choice.

Proposal A dealt with an increase in property taxes. Not a decrease. Proposal A states that property taxes may not be increased more than the rate of inflation or 5% whichever is lower. It does not take into account the ramifications of lower property values. You can lose 10% of your value on your home, but if the cpi is 2$ your taxes will increase 2% despite the loss of value of the home.

I don't go after the Irish PM for using a teleprompter because he's not the American president. That's for the Irish to condemn if they so choose. Obama uses the teleprompter for nearly everything. Not just speeches, but introductions, and announcements. I'd almost be willing to bet that when he gets frisky at night with his wife, that he turns on the teleprompter to read, "come here baby".

The silliness of the Socialist Democrats just continues to grow in leaps and bounds.

Communications guru said...

It is a Republican bill. Look who sponsored it. As I said in the post, Democrats changed their votes after Governor Jennifer Granholm said the proposal deserved to be part of the discussion on the overall fairness of state taxes. Somewhere along the way there will be, hopefully, a way to make this fair to all taxpayers and not screw local governments.

Here’s the thing I like about being a Democrat: we are a big tent party that doesn’t march in lock step with what the party bosses tell us to do, and I don’t agree with the Democrats that crossed over.

No, the tough thing for a politician to do is make unpopular choices that benefit all of the people. Anyone can say yes to be popular but will cause harm in the long run. Once again, politicians are the people, and they made the right choice in 2002 and 2006.

You are wrong about gasoline taxes, of course. According to the Tax Foundation, the 19.875 cents a gallon we pay puts us at 31st, well behind New York at No. 1 at 38 cents but not far from the lowest with Georgia’s 7.5 cents. The Sales tax was increased by two cents in 1994, but property taxes were more than cut in half. That puts us at 11th, tied with 10 other states, such as Arkansas, Connecticut and Indiana. The cigarette tax, thankfully, is one of the highest in the nation, fourth to be exact. I want to see it overtake New Jersey for the top spot. Michigan is 30th for taxes on wine, but 7th is spirits. Hopefully, we can overtake Washington there.

For years homeowners have received a huge break on property taxes because the true value of the home was increasing at a much faster rate than inflation or 5 percent, but now that the assessed value is finally catching up with taxable value people are crying foul. When the house is sold the new owner has to pay taxes on the true value – actually only half – on the home. Why does one group get a break and not another? The fact is very few of the record foreclosures the state and country are seeing is because of property taxes.

Every president uses a teleprompter; I have no problem with that. We will never hear President Obama tell the world how OB/GYNs can’t practice their love with women. I watched some of his town hall meeting in Costa Mesa last night and he did fine. This was a real townhall meeting; not a Bush “townhall meeting” where only supporters are let in.

There is not such thing as a “socialist Democrat” is this country, and that is just one more false fascist Republican talking point.

Not Anonymous said...

I don't know where you get your figures from on the gas tax but you're off.

We pay 54.4 on each gallon of gas in this state. That's state and fed combined. The fed is 18.4 cents per gallon.

Despite all of this excess money the State cannot manage the billions that they get from that gas tax.

Now they want to change the gas tax so that the state gets more money and to hell with the people of this state. No wonder everyone is leaving in droves from this state.

It's time for the state to tighten their belts and to stop confiscating money from it's citizens. The only thing that will make this state prosperous is for the people to do it. Government does not make the people prosperous. They are only a hindrance to the ingenuity and productivity of the people.

Communications guru said...

I told you where I got my accurate information. The state gas tax is 19 cents a gallon, and it has been since 1997. That puts it at 31st in the nation in 2008. That debunks your false claim that: “We pay one of the highest rates of taxes on gasoline.” Don’t you agree? I have no idea what formula they are using, but the state gas tax is 19 cents a gallon. The 6 percent sales tax is applied to the 18.4 cents federal tax, which I think is a mistake.

I don’t know what excess money you are talking about. “No wonder everyone is leaving in droves from this state?” I haven’t heard that line since the mid-1970s and early ‘80s. I don’t believe Michigan is losing any more population than any of the other cold, manufacturing states.

The state has “tightened their belts” since 2002, and paying taxes is not “confiscating money from it's (sic) citizens.” Government is not “a hindrance to the ingenuity and productivity of the people.” That’s like those evil FDA regulators making those good people from Peanut Corporation of America recall perfectly good peanut butter off the shelves just because it made a few people sick and they discovered a few dead rodents in the mix.

Get government the hell out of the way, and stop being a hindrance to the ingenuity and productivity of the people at Peanut Corporation of America.

Not Anonymous said...

Apparently, you can't read the website. I don't know how it's going to come out here, but next to each state is two prices. The first price is the total tax paid per gallon of gasoline, the second is the tax paid per gallon of diesel.

You should censor this before the other two people that read your blog see this. Otherwise, they'll see you in your lies.

Total US Fuel Taxes by State
After crude oil costs, taxes are the second largest contributor to the price paid at the pump. Together Federal and State excise taxes on fuel account for an average cost of approximately 62 cents per gallon. Rates include Federal excise taxes 18.4 cpg for gasoline and 24.4 cpg for diesel. cpg = cents per gallon
State Gasoline
(¢/g) Diesel
(¢/g) Comment
Alabama 38.6 45.6 2 cent inspection fee. 1 cpg Transport Fee. City and Couny levies can be from .5 to 6 cpg.
Alaska 26.4 32.4
Arizona 37.4 52.4 1 cpg UST tax. Use class vehicles pay an additionsl 9cpg for diesel
Arkansas 40.2 47.2 .3 cpg environmental assurance fee for underground storage tank fund
California 63.9 72.0 6% Sales Tax. 1.25% county tax. 1.2 cpg state UST fee. plus local sales tax
Colorado 40.4 44.9
Connecticut 62.5 61.4
Delaware 41.4 46.4 .9% gross receipts tax for Hazardous substance cleanup fund.
Dist. of Columbia 38.4 44.4
Florida 51.6 53.4 Sales tax 11.6. 4 cpg excise tax. 2.2 cpg environmental inspection.
Georgia 44.4 52.6 4% sales tax. Local option sales taxes from 1% to 3%
Hawaii 51.0 71.1 4% sales tax. county tax and 0.1 cpg environmental reponse tax.
Idaho 43.4 49.4
Illinois 57.9 65.7 6.25% sales tax. 0.003 per gallon tax for underground storage tank fund. Additional 12.75 cpg in City of Chicago
Indiana 50.1 69.2 6% sales tax. 0.01 per gallon inspection fee.
Iowa 40.1 47.9 1 cpg UST fee.
Kansas 43.4 51.4 1 cpg environmental fee
Kentucky 36.9 39.9 1.4cpg underground storage tank fund. Commercial carriers pay surtax 2.2cpg quarterly on gas and 5.2 cpg on special fuels
Louisiana 38.4 44.4
Maine 47.5 53.9 .07 Coastal and Inland Water fund. 1.38 groundwater fund. 40 cpg/10
Maryland 41.9 48.7
Massachusetts 41.9 47.9 2.5 cp UST fund.
Michigan 54.4 60.3 6% sales tax. .875 cpg for environmental regulation fee for refined petroleum fund
Minnesota 40.4 46.4 2 cpg UST cleanup fee at wholesale level
Mississippi 37.2 43.2 .4 cpg Environmental Protection Fee. In Hancock
Missouri 36.0 42.0
Montana 46.2 53.0 0.75cpg fee assessed at the pump to go toward the state cleanup fund.
Nebraska 42.3 47.7 0.9cpg release prevention fee for gasoline and 0.3cpg release prevention fee for diesel
Nevada 50.9 53.0 up to 10cpg county tax on gasoline.0.75 cpg cleanup fee. .055 cpg inspection fee.
New Hampshire 38.0 44.0 0.125 cpg for oil pollution control fund.1.5 cpg for UST cleanup fund.
New Jersey 32.9 41.9 4 cpg Petroleum Products Gross Receipts Tax.
New Mexico 36.4 43.4 1 cpg loading fee.
New York 59.6 64.7 local county sales tax of between 3.125% to 4.75%.
North Carolina 48.6 54.6 0.25cpg inspection tax.17.5 cpg flat rate plus a variable rate of 12.35 cpg wholesale price component
North Dakota 41.4 47.4
Ohio 46.4 52.4 Surcharge of 3 cpg for commercial vehicles.
Oklahoma 35.4 38.4 1 cpg per gallon UST fee.
Oregon 43.4 48.7 additional optional county gasoline (ranging from 1 to 3 cpg) and city gasoline and diesel taxes (ranging from 1 to 5 cpg).
Pennsylvania 50.7 63.6 19.2 cent per gallon oil company franchise tax on gas. 26.1 cpg oil company franchise tax on diesel.1.1 cpg UST fee
Rhode Island 49.4 55.4 1 cent per gallon environmental protection regulatory fee for UST program.
South Carolina 35.2 41.2 0.25 cpg inspection fee for inspection program and 0.50cpg environmental fee for UST cleanup.
South Dakota 42.4 48.4 2 cpg Tank Inspection Fee. Ethanol is taxed at 20 cents per gallon; E85 and M85 are taxed at 10 cpg.
Tennessee 39.8 42.8 1cent special petroleum tax for gasoline and .4 cpg environmental assurance fee.
Texas 38.4 44.4
Utah 42.9 48.9
Vermont 38.4 50.4 1 cpg license fee for UST fund.
Virginia 38.0 44.0 0.6cpg petroleum storage tank fee and 2% sales tax on motor fuels in localities that are part of the Northern Virginia Transportation District
Washington 54.4 60.4
West Virginia 49.9 55.9
Wisconsin 51.3 57.3 2cpg UST fee on gasoline and diesel.
Wyoming 32.4 38.4 1 cpg to the environmental cleanup costs.
Please note the above rates are meant as only guidelines of pump taxes and may not represent the full tax amount at the pump.
Source: Compiled by GasBuddy Organization from various sources.
* UST = Underground Storage Tank

Communications guru said...

The state gas tax in Michigan is 19 cents a gallon, and it has been since 1997.

From the Detroit news, “Michigan drivers pay a straight 19-cents-per-gallon state gasoline tax. In addition, they pay a federal gasoline tax of 18.4 cents per gallon and a state sales tax of 6 percent.”

Like I said, it’s a mistake to impose a sales tax on a gallon of gas. Michigan’s 19-cents-per-gallon state gasoline tax is not “one of the highest rates of taxes on gasoline,” and according to the Tax Foundation, the 19.875 cents a gallon we pay puts us at 31st.

First, I don’t censor, brett. Second, a lot more than two people read this blog, and third I don’t lie.