Yet another regressive tax. Michigan Policast Episode 27

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In our last podcast of 2014 we talk more about lame duck, transportation, loggers, and why we are going to miss Randy Richardville — who turned-out to be one of the few adults in the room.

lame duck game 2

What died in lame duck?

  • Medical Marijuana reform
  • Election rigging
  • Sentencing reform
  • A new and broadly supported teacher evaluation system

A huge win for commercial logging cruised through lame duck.  Amy explains what this is and why it is so potentially harmful to Michigan’s natural resources.  This is some creepy language in a sick bill from a state rep whose family money comes from logging.  Here’s a brief explanation from Amy’s post on the legislation:

The law will amend NERPA to prohibit the state from engaging in activities that preserve biodiversity, and will instead require the Department of Natural Resources to focus on economic growth in its environmental management practices. They will not be allowed to fund or participate in activities that promote restoration or identify unique habitats. The law actually revises the definition of “conservation” to exclude the promotion of native species and habitats. As if that’s not enough, the law deletes language that attributes loss of biodiversity to human activity — meaning, they could not even converse in the language of the science behind biodiversity.

This law will additionally prevent the DNR from continuing their efforts to stem the spread of invasive species, unless it is determined to be in the best interest of the state’s economic growth.

 

The transportation can gets kicked down the road, and this is just irresponsible on the part of the legislature.  Here’s the ballot language that goes before the public in May 2015:

A PROPOSAL TO AMEND THE STATE CONSTITUTION TO ELIMINATE SALES AND USE TAXES ON GASOLINE AND DIESEL FUEL, ALLOW AN INCREASE IN THE SALES TAX RATE, DEDICATE REVENUE FOR SCHOOL AID, AND REVISE ELIGIBLE SCHOOL AID USES.
The proposed constitutional amendment would:
• Eliminate all sales or use taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel used in motor vehicles operated on public roads or highways beginning on October 1, 2015;
• Allow an increase in the sales tax rate from 6 percent to 7 percent;
• Activate other laws dedicating additional revenue for transportation purposes, including repair of roads, streets, and bridges;
• Require state funds for school aid to be used exclusively for financial assistance for public school districts, community colleges, and career and technical education and related scholarships; and
• Dedicate a portion of use tax revenue for school aid purposes.
Should this proposal be adopted?
YES [ ]
NO [ ]

If and only if that language is approved, the legislature will enact legislation to do the following:

• Convert existing 19-cent per gallon gasoline and 15-cent per gallon diesel taxes to a wholesale version. Gas taxes could top 41 cents by October 2015, but there would be no additional sales tax, and all resulting revenue would go to transportation.

• Eliminate some annual vehicle registration fee discounts, increase fees for heavy trucks and create new surcharges for electric and hybrid vehicles whose owners pay fewer fuel taxes.

• Strengthen warranty requirements for construction projects and require more competitive bidding.

• Fully restore the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit to 20 percent of the federal level. It was scaled back to 6 percent in 2011.

Those are just the significant components of the entire package.

As Walt mentions, a key portion of this is based on sales taxes, which disproportionately affects the poor. The EITC will get a boost, but it won’t help everyone who is hit disproportionately harder by the new taxes.

And the next legislature will be even crazier.

That’s it for this week.  Remember to comment, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or send us an email.  We love hearing from you!