Snyder proposes massive shift in tax burden

Gov. Snyder’s budget proposal would represent a major shift in the tax burden in the state of Michigan, significantly reducing the taxes paid by businesses and replacing the revenue by a huge tax increase on seniors, the poor and the working class.  Feb. 28, 2011  —  The Michigan Messenger

Other Voices: Our state should welcome immigrants

Anti-immigration sentiment swept the nation with the passage of Arizona’s controversial immigration law last year. Feb. 27, 2011  —  Crain’s Detroit Business

Seven new board members named to the League

Two former state budget directors and the retired head of the Senate Fiscal Agency are among seven new members added to the League board of board of directors.

The League’s board recently voted to expand the 13-member board to 20 members, a move allowed under the League’s bylaws. The expanded board meets today in Lansing. 

Newly elected are:

  •  Richard Ball, optometrist and a former state representative from Laingsburg.
  • Charles Ballard, Michigan State University economist and author of Michigan’s Economic Future: A New Look.
  • Bob Emerson, former state representative, state senator and the state budget director under Gov. Jennifer Granholm, now working at McAlvey, Merchant & Associates.
  • Don Gilmer, former state lawmaker, Kalamazoo County administrator and state budget director under Gov. John Engler.
  • Gary Olson, retired director of the Senate Fiscal Agency, now at Public Sector Consultants.
  • Charles Pryde, Ford Motor Co.
  • Lynette Rhodes, president and CEO, L&S Associates.

“This very experienced group of new members will broaden the League board’s perspective and bring enhanced energy at a critical time in our state’s history,’’ said Lynn Jondahl, chair of the League’s board of directors. 

The League’s President & CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs said the expansion strengthens the business, budget and political background of the board.

 “The League is already blessed with a dynamic board, and this will only serve to strengthen our organization,’’ she said.

 The League’s other board members are:

Lynn Jondahl, a retired state lawmaker;

Bob Allison, director of government affairs for SEIU Healthcare Michigan;

Delois Whitaker Caldwell, retired president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit;

Diane C. Emling, instructor at Northwestern Michigan College;

Mark T. Gaffney, president of the Michigan State AFL-CIO;

Karl D. Gregory, consultant and managing director of Karl D. Gregory & Associates;

Susan Herman, director, Michigan Jewish Conference;

Marsha Kreucher, chief executive officer of the Community Action Agency in Jackson;

Dennis M. Paradis, of Michigan State University Institute of Healthcare Studies;

Kim E. Sibilsky, executive director of the Michigan Primary Care Association;

Robert W. Swanson, retired director of the Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth;

Margaret A. Talburtt, chief executive of Lovelight Foundation; and

George B. Van Antwerp, Van Antwerp & Beale Publishers.

 ###

The Michigan League for Human Services is a nonprofit, nonpartisan statewide policy and advocacy group for low-income citizens. It has a network of 1,500 individuals and organizations representing business, labor, human service professions, faith-based groups as well as concerned citizens.

 

70% oppose cutting EITC

The budget balancing plans of the Republican-led Michigan government contains many controversial items, but perhaps the most unpopular is bound to be the elimination of the Earned Income Tax Credit, which helps keep hundreds of thousands of state residents out of poverty. Feb. 25, 2011  —  The Michigan Messenger

Titanic shift in Lansing

No, that giant cracking sound you heard was not the 30-million ton iceberg that recently broke off a New Zealand glacier after an earthquake. Instead, it was the sound of the seismic shift in Lansing as Gov. Rick Snyder tries to move a good portion of Michigan’s  tax base from businesses to the backs of working families, seniors and vulnerable kids.

Now that the dust is settling on Gov. Snyder’s wide-ranging proposals launched last week, it’s becoming crystal clear what’s at stake: League Senior Policy Analyst Joanne Bump has found that businesses will realize more than an 80 percent decrease in taxes.  Not a 10 percent cut, not 20 percent or even half – a full 82 percent drop. See the League’s Fact Sheet: The Big Tax Shift for more information.

The Michigan Business Tax now generates $2.1 billion in revenue to help pay for vital services such as education, help for abused kids, and public safety. That will plummet to $392 million in FY 2013, the first full year of the tax changes. House Fiscal Agency Director Mitch Bean this week used a different base to compute an even bigger drop — 86 percent.

At the same time, personal income taxes will climb a whopping 31 percent. That will not be shared equally. In fact those at the high end of the economic ladder will see the biggest gain as the income tax rate shrinks from 4.35 percent to 4.25 percent.

Here’s who is expected to pick up the slack:  low- and moderate-income households and families who would lose the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit, seniors who will lose part of the homestead property tax credit and will have to pay taxes on pensions, and parents who will lose the $600 per child state income tax deduction

To add insult to injury, the tax increases won’t offset cuts. No, those are coming anyway — $1.4 billion in cuts despite a $1.7 billion increase in income taxes. Schools are facing at least a $470 per pupil cut; universities will get whacked an additional 15 percent; revenue sharing that helps pay for local services will plummet and 12,600 of the state’s poorest families with children will lose their public assistance grants at a time when jobs continue to be scarce. In addition, the budget proposal makes dollar cuts throughout state budgets that have yet to be explained.

The League has advocated for a review of senior tax preferences, which are among the most generous in the country. But it’s unacceptable to tax pensions to give businesses a big break rather than provide necessary services in our struggling state. It’s important to note, too, that Michigan’s business taxes are already about average among the states.

This is not a balanced approach. This is an extreme approach that favors the wealthy and businesses – no matter how successful the business is and how much demand it generates for public services — at the expense of working families, vulnerable kids and seniors.

It looks like many agree. In fact, a poll released this week found that voters do not favor this titanic shift from businesses to working families by ending the Michigan EITC.   

— Judy Putnam

Michigan voters oppose scrapping tax credit for working poor, poll says

Eliminating Michigan’s Earned Income Tax Credit was opposed by more than two-thirds of those surveyed in a new poll with even more objecting to using the proceeds for a business tax cut.  Feb. 23, 2011  —  mlive.com

Poll: Three out of four voters support EITC

Feb. 23, 2011
From www.saveoureitc.com

More than three out of four Michigan voters oppose the elimination of the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit for low-wage working families, according to a new poll released today.

“Michigan is speaking out loud and clear, saying it does not support proposals to end the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income working families, which would dramatically increase child poverty in Michigan,” said Gilda Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Human Services, which is helping coordinate a broad group of organizations supporting the EITC. “Political leaders who want to balance the budget and pay for business tax breaks by raising taxes on working families – most with children – are on the wrong side of the voters.”

The survey of 600 Michigan voters was conducted on Feb. 12 to 17 by EPIC/MRA of Lansing, and commissioned by the Michigan League for Human Services.

The poll found that 76 percent of Michigan voters, including majorities from all walks of life and political leanings, oppose ending the EITC, with 70 percent saying they strongly oppose its elimination. Gov. Rick Snyder and several legislative leaders have called for eliminating the Michigan EITC, which encourages people to seek work and improves local economies.

“Every demographic group opposes eliminating the EITC, including Republicans — even Republican men and Tea Party supporters, including Tea Party supporters who are strong Republicans. To take away the EITC would truly be going against the grain of public opinion,” said EPIC/MRA President Bernie Porn.

The survey asked four questions. The initial question explained how the federal EITC works, and then noted that participants in the state EITC receive 20 percent of the federal credit, reducing the tax burden on 780,000 Michigan families by an average of $432 a year, at an annual cost of $355 million.  “A proposal before the Michigan Legislature would eliminate all funding for the state Earned Income Tax Credit to balance the state budget,” the question noted.

In this initial question, 67 percent of Michigan voters said they “strongly opposed” ending the EITC and 3 percent “somewhat opposed” ending it; only 26 percent supported ending the EITC.

The more people knew about the benefits of the EITC the more likely they were to oppose its elimination. All respondents who were not “strongly opposed” were then provided with more information, including that the money from ending the EITC would help pay for a business tax cut, that loss of the state EITC would increase child poverty and that people who receive EITC funds tend to spend the money quickly in their local communities.

This information increased support for the EITC, with the number “strongly opposed” to elimination rising to 70 percent, those “somewhat opposed” to 6 percent, and those who favor ending the EITC declining to 20 percent.

Even among those who identified themselves as Tea Party supporters, 59 percent opposed ending the EITC, as did 70 percent of those who said they were opposed to abortion. The survey found that 59 percent of Republican men and 66 percent of Republican women opposed ending the EITC.

“This is not a liberal or conservative issue,” said Paul Long, president and CEO of the Michigan Catholic Conference, a long-time supporter for the EITC. “Ronald Reagan was one of the most ardent supporters of the EITC, calling it pro-family and pro-jobs.”

Long said he was not surprised that 71 percent of self-identified Protestant voters and 72 percent of Catholic voters said they opposed ending the EITC. “Differing faith communities support efforts to create a just society and policies that lift working families out of poverty,” said Long.

Eric Schneidewind, president of AARP Michigan, noted that 78 percent of those over 50 opposed ending the EITC. “Senior citizens understand that young families with children, who are the main beneficiaries of the Earned Income Tax Credit, are struggling right now. These are reliable voters, and we will make sure they know where their state lawmakers are standing.”

Learn more about the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit at www.saveoureitc.com. Supporters of the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit include: Accounting Aid Society, AARP-Michigan, ACCESS, Center for Civil Justice, Community Economic Development Association of Michigan, Early Childhood Investment Corporation, Food Bank Council of Michigan, Jewish Community Relations Council, Michigan Association of United Ways, Michigan Catholic Conference, Michigan Association of Counties, Michigan Chapter, National Association of Social Workers, Michigan Community Action Agency Association, Michigan’s Children, Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency, Michigan Counseling Association, Michigan County Social Services Association, Michigan League for Human Services, Mothering Justice, Michigan Primary Care Association, PHI Michigan, United Way of Southeastern Michigan and more.

Robbing the neighborhood

On the day that Michigan learned child poverty was increasing in our state, several Michigan Republican Senators introduced legislation that is virtually guaranteed to hurt even more of the state’s most vulnerable citizens, our children.  Feb. 22, 2011  —  The Michigan Citizen

Letter: Help kids with early intervention

Thank you for the editorial on the Michigan Kids Count report that so aptly connected the issues of poverty and early childhood to school readiness and academic performance, (“Early intervention can save kids,” Feb. 8). Feb. 17, 2011  —  The Detroit News

Don’t forget the ’20’ part of P-20

During Gov. Rick Snyder’s State of the State address in January, he emphasized the importance of taking a P-20 approach to improving Michigan’s education system. The P-20 concept is gaining popularity nationwide, and refers to educational improvement undertaken as a holistic endeavor, from early childhood up through K-12 into postsecondary and the workforce.

It is important, of course, to make sure that the “20” side of the equation gets as much attention as the “P” side. While interventions in early childhood have been shown to be very effective in promoting K-12 and postsecondary success, there are many adult workers who do not have the occupational skills in demand in today’s labor market.

Upskilling these workers is crucial to our state’s economic strength. The skill level of a state’s workforce is one factor that job providers take into consideration when deciding where to locate their businesses, and individuals with occupational skills are in a better position to start up and maintain their own businesses.

A solid P-20 approach to education will make it easier for those who need to improve their basic skills (reading, math, English as a second language) to do so while concurrently acquiring occupational skills in such sectors as construction, health care or computer programming. Some community colleges in Michigan are currently teaming up with businesses and adult education providers to enable adult learners to do this.

The governor’s budget proposal released Thursday contained good news and bad news for adult learners and workers. On the upside, funding for community colleges was held harmless as was funding for adult education in the School Aid Fund. On the downside, the budget includes a 15 percent reduction for four-year colleges and universities. While this does not necessarily signal a backing away from commitment to the P-20 approach, it is important for Michigan to make a financial investment to build up the skills of its workforce to help get our economy moving again. This ought to be something that most liberals and conservatives can agree on.

— Peter Ruark

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