Lame Duck Michigan State Legislature Fails to Act Responsibily

This past week the legislatures from the State of Michigan choose to show how weak they are in governing. The lawmakers have agreed to hold a statewide referendum in May in which the citizens of the State of Michigan will be asked to raise the state sales tax by a penny to fix the roads. This self-imposed tax is something I will never give a yes vote. It is not my responsibility to vote for or convince my neighbors to vote for an increase in sales tax. Jack Lessenberry reports that Lansing (Michigan) insider Richard McLellan, is quoted: “the Legislature shall impose taxes sufficient with other resources to pay the expenses of state government,” which include “financing and maintaining roads.” In my opinion the legislature has failed all around.

We just have a general election this past November. The citizen told them that they need to govern. They needed to act. Act boldly. The problem with our elections are that the new Representatives have to wait till the middle of January before they take office. No other country does this. It’s a holdover from the 18th century when the elected official had to ride a horse to get to the location of the government seat. It will never be changed. What this does is allow those that were defeated to pass poor legislation. Michigan officials did that this week.

We have suffered through some hard winters that have ruin many roads. Local government road commissions, on limited budgets have applied “patches” to repair the road infrastructure. Unlike many other countries, we do not have a rail system to provide transportation for people. Our rail system is 90% used for transporting goods, from coal to autos to grains, on & on. Our highway system is also used to ship goods cross-country, both short haul & long haul. Our highways and intrastate roadways are being destroyed.

First, a sales tax is a regressive way to fund road repair. If you break down spending in sort of a “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs”, you spend in the following order:

  • Basic needs (Food), which is not tax
  • Essential services and other necessities (taxed)
  • Nice to have (taxed)
  • High end discretionary spending (taxed)

Although the last 3 items are taxed, the taxpayer doesn’t need to spend on the last two categories. This forces the lower income taxpayer to spend a high proportion of their income on taxed items. The higher income earner will also find ways to circumvent the tax burden because they have more discretionary income to spend & more time to make those decisions.

An additional burden is that this election will cost the people of the State of Michigan $10 million dollars to run. It will not generate enough dollars to fix all the problems. It will take 3 years to collect the total amount. If this referendum is defeated they have no backup plan. Also on the back side is an increase in the yearly car registration fees. These are all reason to vote no.