ORMAND HOOK: Writer says vote No on proposal 1

To the editor:

The Proposal 1 vote is coming on Tuesday, May 5, and by published reports only a small percentage of voters will take the responsibility to vote.

This vote is extremely important because it is our duty to participate and because of the magnitude of this tax proposal.

This $2 billion tax increase is one of the largest tax increases in Michigan history and it is setting there begging for our input.

Our roads have been neglected because of economic downturns in the past and can no longer be pushed aside.

Everyone agrees on this. The debate is whether we designate funds within the state budget or ask the taxpayer for more. In December 2014 the Michigan House of Representatives passed a bill to fix the roads which would not cost new tax money and would be paid for by reassigning monies within the budget. When the Senate started working on this bill they came up with a $1.2 billion tax increase as their solution. The two chambers met in conference and hammered out a compromise, a nearly $2 billion tax increase.

That’s quite a compromise! It’s not the way any of us would compromise but that’s the best they say they can come up with.

The taxes would gather some $463 million from new fuel taxes at 10 cents per gallon, $10.9 million on new vehicle registration fees, $50 million on new truck registration fees, and some $150 million on the eliminated discounts on the registration of older vehicles. The numbers become staggering but all agree that $2 billion new dollars will be taken out of the economy at a time when the economy is just starting in a positive direction.

If Proposal 1 passes, the first two years the vast majority of the new taxes will go to expenses other than roads. After three years 60 percent of the tax money will be spent on roads and the remainder to schools, city mass transit, Earned Income Tax Credits, the general fund, a recreation improvement fund, and local revenue sharing.

One false narrative that is being spread is that there is “no Plan B”. That is very incorrect. There is a bill in the House and another in the Senate that addresses the roads without imposing new taxes. The supporters of the new taxes that stand to benefit from the tax increase that will not be benefitting the roads are attempting to scare the voters into an unwise decision.

I have heard so many individuals complain that the legislature should make the hard decision and work the budget, just like they have to do at home, and address this need within the budget and please do not punt this to the electorate. We elected you to take care of business.

The roads need to be addressed within the budget because there are larger budget busting expenditures coming down the road.

The largest is the $9.6 billion in tax forgiveness of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation which hands out tax credits to favored businesses. The budget cannot handle this looming debt and any savings right now are desperately needed. There is also the $1.5 billion annual payment the budget must come up with to cover the Affordable Care Act. Right now the federal government is covering most of this cost but that “grace period” is quickly coming to an end.

A third hit to the budget is the wish by the governor to do another bailout for the Detroit Public Schools to help with payments to the retirement system that DPS cannot handle. We must address each of these and not fall into the habit of draining the economy via more new taxes.

I have personally renamed this Proposal the Taxpayer Open Wallet Act. We must all study and vote. Our duty is to vote. We cannot let a twenty percent voter turnout be considered the voice of the voter. We need a turnout by all. We will all be paying for this. I ask that you vote ‘No’ and push this decision back to the legislature and the governor.

Ormand Hook

Big Rapids

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