This is getting ridiculous
Michigan Republicans are getting ready to inflict further catastrophic damage on our state’s schools with the passage of a package of bills designed to pay for road and bridge repair, a major priority of Governor Rick Snyder. The bills say nothing about education or the School Aid Fund but the impact is there to the tune of more than $770.1 million.
Here’s how it works: House Bill 4539 repeals the the sales tax on gasoline sales in Michigan. House Bill 4571 changes the current tax on aviation fuel from 3 cents to an “ad valorum” tax 4 cents and House Bill 4572 eliminates the sales tax on aviation fuel.
All of this has the following overall impacts:
[Source: Senate Fiscal Agency (pdf), click chart for a larger version]
The General Fund gets a $255 million cash injection. The Transportation Fund gets $1.05 billion. And see the School Aid Fund? Look at the last line. Net impact is ZERO! YAY! But wait. Look up to the top of the chart next to the “Revenue Losses” section. Under School Aid Fund (SAF), there’s $770.1 million hit from the sales taxes being eliminated on fuels. That’s because 60% of the 4% part of Michigan’s sales tax goes to SAF. Now look next to the “Revenue Generated” section. There’s an offset to the $770.1 million with the title “Increase Sales and Use Taxes by 1%”.
That’s where they have attempted to pull a fast one.
Increasing the state sales tax requires Michiganders to vote for it and only after it receives super-majority (2/3) votes in both the House and the Senate. They are going to eliminate $770.1 million from the schools and hope and pray that Michigan voters see fit to increase the sales tax. Again. And this doesn’t fill the part of the hole created by eliminating the sales tax on aviation fuel, by the way.
A sales tax is one the most regressive taxes we have. The more poor you are, the greater a percentage of your budget goes to sales taxes. And this presumes that Michiganders would actually vote for a sales tax increase. We just added 2 cents to our state sales tax in 1994 and Goddess knows that Republicans have spent enormous amounts of time and money convincing us, with the help of their corporatist pals at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, how evil taxes are, especially NEW taxes.
By doing it this way, they pay for over half of Governor Snyder’s proposal to invest $1.2 billion in road & bridge repair by taking it from the schools. Period. They then count on the largesse of Michigan voters to fill that hole by voting to tax themselves.
It’s time to take action and, considering the impact that Tea Party groups have had contacting their legislators, I really think phone calls can make a difference. Three of these bills, House Bills 4571, 4572 and 4677, come before the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure TODAY. There are several things you can do:
- Click HERE to go to a page with contact information for your legislators. MAKE THE CALL!
- Click HERE to send a message to your legislator via the Michigan Parents for Schools website
- Click HERE to send a message via the Tri-County Alliance for Public Education
Make sure you mention House Bill 4539, as well.
One final thing: keep in mind that this is nothing but a blatant ploy by Michigan Republicans, who have already raised taxes on more than half of Michigan residents, to avoid having to say they’ve raised taxes on us again. They literally are forcing us to raise our own taxes by pointing a gun at our schools’ and teachers’ and students’ heads.
UPDATE: This afternoon the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed both H.B. 4571 & 4572 along party lines (9-6 vote) sending it to the full House. If 4539 passes, as well, they will have stripped over three quarters of billion MORE dollars from schools with absolutely no plan in place to replace the revenue. Call your House Representatives TODAY!
[Hat tip to the fine folks at Save Michigan's Public Schools for bringing this to my attention.]