Democrats, GOP, Politics, Taxes — February 22, 2015 at 9:31 am

Why this solid anti-Proposal 1 advocate is voting YES and why you should, too


In less than 10 weeks from today the voters of Michigan will be asked to vote on the ballot question titled Proposal 1, or as it is commonly being called the “road fix bill”. Here are the main elements of Proposal 1:

  • An increase in transportation revenue of $1.3 billion, with $1.2 billion a year going to roads and about $112 million going to mass-transit.
  • Removal of the sales tax from fuel sales.
  • An increase in wholesale fuel taxes that will result in about a 3-cent-a-gallon increase from the average fuel price.
  • An increase of $45 million in vehicle registration fees and $50 million in fees for heavy trucks. Registration fees for cars and light trucks won’t go up, but the 10% discounts new car buyers receive for each of the first three years they own their cars will be eliminated.
  • Restoration of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which was slashed in 2011, to its full 20% of the federal EITC level.
  • Protection of funding for schools and local governments, which receive much of the money that was formerly raised from the sales ta on fuel sales. The plan would actually increase school funding by $300 million a year. Universities could no longer be funded from the School Aid Fund, though community colleges could be.
  • An increase in registration fees for commercial trucks while also hiking the cost of registration for hybrid and electric vehicles between $25 and $200.

So, there it is and, of course, the critical piece of this is that the revenue is raised by increasing the existing sales tax from 6% to 7%, an almost 17% increase. As a result, you and I have to vote on this because the state constitution mandates it.

Clearly and loudly this became instantly controversial. Groups from both sides of the political front were clamoring both printable and non-printable responses to this legislative act of cowardice, as many see it. Some, of course, believe this is the best path forward. Still others believe the monies that will be raised and designated by this Proposal can be found in the current budget by readdressing budget priorities and slashing funding to certain departments. And, frankly, if you can think it, it has most likely been bandied about as the solution to this critical problem, and let’s be up front about that with great clarity. Our roads are a mess of epic proportions and they need to be fixed, rebuilt, retooled and restructured, and that doesn’t happen by talking about it.

This road repair boil has festered for far too long and there isn’t a politician, either Democrat or Republican, that doesn’t and shouldn’t share in the embarrassment of the neglect of this massive infrastructure nightmare. I have suggested both privately and publicly that the $1.2 billion that would be raised and designated to fix our roads, bridges, etc., isn’t even close to enough to do the job adequately. But it is obviously better than nothing, which is my point and I will get to that in a moment.

I also embrace just about every argument that I have heard as to why we should vote no. I agree that this is a regressive tax. I agree that “fair share” is once again ignored. I agree that once again big business has been let off the hook. I agree that truck weights need to be readjusted and then those policies that cover the weight limit maximums MUST be better policies and those companies that ignore limits should be held accountable, fined, and forced to comply. I agree with so many of the anti-Prop 1 crowd that I could be nominated to be the poster child for the anti-Prop 1 movement, which is why you might be a bit surprised when I exclaim in full-throated voice the following:

I am supporting the passage of Proposal 1 and will do whatever I can to see that it is passed.

Why? Have I gone completely mad? How can I claim to be the voice of the people and support this? Has Tony gone over to the other side?

My answer is actually quite pedestrian and logical. It is based in REALITY, or what I think reality is, anyway, and as I share with you how and why I came to this decision, you will either agree with me, disagree with me, or walk away from me. I’m prepared for any and all scenarios but, truth be told, I don’t believe we really have a choice, and this is why, and it’s pretty simple, if you think about it:

If we don’t pass Proposal 1 on May 5, then what?

That’s it. That’s my reasoning. That’s the basis of my decision.

I have spoken to a dozen people over the past three weeks as I researched and gathered information on my journey to decide what to do. My initial reaction was what most of yours was: Hell no! I will not once again make decisions for the legislature because they didn’t have the courage or leadership to be bold, honest and daring. I was disgusted that this “compromise” was more like a hostage situation than a solution to what ails us. I was there with so many of you initially, and for the most part I still am. But I need the roads fixed. I need more money for schools guaranteed by Prop 1. I need to make sure that the working poor get the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) restored to its former 20% level. I need to know that public education dollars cannot be co-mingled for higher education purposes, and again, I need my roads fixed, and if you are being 100% honest, so do you. Every one of you.

This was not an easy decision in any way. But as I talked to even those who are passionately opposed to this Proposal, not a single one of them had a solution to the problem – now wait for it – that could actually get passed or have any possibility of getting passed IN THE CURRENT POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT.

There is the key. The turning point for me. The REALITY. Friends, this is not an issue that can be allowed to be ignored any longer, and I mean not another day longer. If Proposal 1 does not pass on May 5th, we are left with nothing and no political will or expectation of political compromise that anything can or will get done, because it won’t. We have an obligation to hold our elected leaders accountable, but we are not doing that very well either, are we? We had an election in November 2014, remember that? And because of the art of gerrymandering, low Democratic turnout, and a confluence of events, it leads us to our REALITY. That reality raises the question, “If we don’t pass Proposal 1, then what?” And if you start throwing out your solutions to this fix, which I know would be excellent solutions, and I mean that sincerely, it won’t matter because it won’t pass a divided legislature and especially the Republican Party who isn’t in love with Proposal 1 to begin with but they offer the only solution they know and would NOT compromise on. And what is that? I wrote it earlier, but I will repeat. Take the current budget, with its $500 billion-plus hole, and find $1.2 billion dollars there. That means massive cuts and massive lay-offs, etc. That is not an answer, that is actually a massive problem, but they don’t care, and you know it. It also mean s no money for public education, restoring the EITC, etc.

Let’s avoid clichés. None of this “it’s the ‘lesser of two evils'” or whatever conveniently fits this situation. We need to deal with reality and that reality is this: Proposal 1 does guarantee money for roads, bridges, infrastructure repair and enhancement. It also guarantees almost $300 per student more than the schools are currently getting. It’s not nearly enough, but I can’t think of a single school district that would say no to that amount of money. I will sleep better knowing that those who participate and need the EITC restored will be able to breathe just a little easier and that money will ALL end up back into the economy with the purchases of food and essential needs every family has, infusing about $300 million dollars a year as well.

Proposal 1 is no panacea. I get that. It does not solve all of the problems that need to be solved and it certainly is not fair to many. I get that, too. But again I ask, if not this, then what? And, keeping in mind you will have to either have the likelihood of it passing in the House, the Senate, and the Executive branches of government – and knowing that will NEVER happen – or to find a ballot proposal that will more easily pass with the voters (good luck there, too.)

I’ve debated this with others and myself. I have asked and been told what could possibly work, but that it would take a start-over strategy that the currently seated legislature has no desire to do. Given the GOP faction of the legislature controls our entire universe, we have no choice right now, do we? Vote no. Don’t vote. Bitch, holler and complain all you want, but Proposal 1 was designed for two things: to get the roads on the path to recovery and quickly, and to restore some sanity to our budget that reflects MY values as a Democrat, a parent and an activist. We do get something for this, by the way, and that seems to get lost in the anti-Proposal 1 message, but the alternative to voting no or not voting at all is that what you have is what you will have. There is no nice way around that. If Proposal 1 goes down in defeat, we all lose. Maybe we lose anyway, depending on your point of view, but I feel an obligation for progress and when I see an actual fix that proactively address issues that matter to me, even though I don’t like how we got there, my reality, yes MY REALITY, is that I have no choice but to vote yes on Proposal 1 and I will be advocating for that passage immediately.

  • Don Handy

    Question. The oil companies are making record profits, so why, since their profit is predicated on cars driving upon roads, are they not being asked to pay one penny more in increases, whereas people who can’t afford to purchase cars are?

    • Tony Trupiano

      Because big business always gets a pass. Sorry, but it’s the truth.

      • BlueDog

        Not under FDR, and basically not until Reagan.

      • TT

        Unlike political commentators, most professions compel practitioners not to assume predicate “facts.” I agree with BlueDog, but the history of big business reform goes back further than FDR to the Progressive Movement of the 1920’s and 1930’s.

        Certainly big business was even more controlling of the levers of government than it is now, at least the bribes where more “honest.” So, what was the catalyst that triggered the success of this movement?

        • MItransitGuy

          Actually that argument doesn’t hold water either. The oil companies (“big business”) are getting dinged in this proposal too with the elimination of the sales tax which we all pay to the state to a wholesale tax at the “rack” which the oil companies will have to pay. Will they pass along the increases to the motoring public? Of course, because that’s the free market, big business way. However, you can not deny that the burden is shifted from the state treasury to collect from every gas station to the oil companies to collect. It is why they so vehemently opposed the conversion to wholesale proposal and fought it tooth and nail over the past several years.

      • Don Handy

        Although I don’t think he was the first person who actually said it, I first heard the following from Robert Kennedy, which was something like, “Some people look at things as they are and ask, ‘Why?’ I dream things as they never were and ask, ‘Why not?””

  • I am in 100% agreement with Tony on this issue. If you’re going to tell us how crappy this proposal is, understand that we are starting from the position that everyone agrees that it’s crappy. But, unless you have a better idea that can actually get passed by this legislature or the voters, you’re just waving your hands without any noise coming out.

    • Patti

      I do have a better answer. Raise taxes on the 1% and on business. That is the answer. And of course you will tell me the republicans will refuse to do this and I agree but I also know if this passes and education gets funding the republicans will immediately pass a bill drastically cutting education. They are longing to do it and they want to do it. And my family can not and I repeat can not afford an increase in the sales tax.

      • Martin Pollard

        Well said, Patti. Sorry, Tony and Eclectablog, but I don’t trust the Republicans any further than I can throw my house, and I especially don’t trust benevolent overlord Rick Michigan and our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect. This proposal will not get a YES vote from me. No, none of the sensible proposals put forth here will make it past the Legislature, but I don’t care. If you give them an inch, they will take 10 miles, and if this gets passed, everything good that’s proposed will eventually get taken away by them. To quote Captain Picard, “The line must be drawn here! This far, no further!”

      • Tony Trupiano

        You understand the dilemma exactly.

    • BlueDog48226

      I’m willing to put up with four more years of crappy roads than vote for this. I’ll wave my hands…

      • tljanssen

        Four more years of no road repairs? In your nightmares!

        • BlueDog48226

          “…[N]o road repairs?”
          That is a conclusion to a false binary: There will be road repairs, Just maybe not as much…but:

          Should the proposal fail, Lansing will still have to deal with the issue. This plebiscite does not absolve the anti-taxers of their responsibility in a representative democracy. They know the roads must be fixed, and they are afraid of the repercussions should they fail to act. Voters will not blame themselves, unlike Turpiano, for the failures manifested by Lansing machinations.

    • beagleowned

      Help me understand, not being snarky.

      the effect of going from 20% to 6% was …,”The average
      credit is now $132, compared with $439 in 2011.” Call it $300.

      Sales tax will be taken off at the pump but wholesale tax will rise, which will almost assuredly be passed on to consumer.

      Sales tax on every thing else goes up by almost 17%, i.e. 6% goes to 7%. Could not quickly find average individual total annual sales tax paid by low income Michigan residents – but much of the EITC will be lost having to pay the increased sales tax.

      So I don’t see as much an advantage for low income folks as Mr Trupiano postulates. It seems biggest effect right now on their money is the lower gas prices – who knows what those will do by 2017?

      So the main argument for support is an increase in school funding and increased road funding.

      Hard for me to believe the Republicans won’t reduce other school funding so that it is a wash. I am convinced their long-term goal is to destroy publicly funded K-12 education.

      So that leaves, in my mind, funding for roads. I moved to Michigan 3.5 years ago – I know the roads are awful. It took many years of mismanagement to get to this level of disrepair.

      But here is my thought, sometimes it has to get worse before it gets better. This is a hoist-with-their-own-petard moment. It will suck, big time. But, unless the low information voters of Michigan get fed up enough to change the political control of the state things are only going to continue to get worse for a whole lot of people including the poor, the schools, etc.

      I am still reading and still thinking. Thanks for writing about you thoughts and conclusions, much appreciated.

      • Once it was clear that the GOP was going to be kicking the increased sales tax to the voters, Democrats negotiated the restoration of the EITC back to 20% as a way to mitigate the regressive nature of the sales tax. The advantage isn’t that the sales tax increase is better, it’s that the Dems found a way somewhat offset it.

        The idea that things have to get worse than they are for people to wake up is a cold, heartless, cruel admission that you don’t care if real people are hurt in the process. I’m not willing to take that position when there are no alternatives being proposed that are realistically better and realistically stand a chance of passing either the legislature or with the voters than this Proposal.

        If we can take back control of the legislature in 2016, we can start making some change but, frankly, that’s unlikely. The Senate is tragically red and Rick Snyder will still be governor. We need to take what progress we can get when we get it, in my opinion.

  • Robert Atallo

    Sorry, but whatever you or I think (and I do disagree with you), Michiganders have been punked too many times already. They will not vote for Prop 1.

  • Patti

    I’m voting no because I don’t believe any of the crap republicans tell us on what will actually happen. I don’t believe education will see an increase because if this passes I think the wacks will immediately pass more drastic cuts to education. The answer to all of this is to raise taxes on the 1% and to raise taxes on business. And most importantly my family can not afford any new taxes – none. We can’t afford it. Period.

  • MM

    Well said Tony, but I disagree. Republicans have backed themselves into a budgetary corner with their tax revenue give aways to corporations and the rich. Their policies have tamped down a Michigan economic comeback for most. Yes, when this proposal goes down, it will mean additional suffering and more austerity cuts, even worse roads and public services…but perhaps Michiganders then will be motivated to vote for a change in Lansing. This proposal is a bandaid for failed ‘supply side’ policies and greedy 1% ideology. If Michigan passes this proposal, it will be a vote in support of continuing Republican policies. Can’t do it. Short term pain, long term gain. Hang tough together, Michigan. Vote NO! And see you this Spring at the Lansing Capitol for the protests! Shoulder to shoulder.

  • John Peralta

    I have an answer have them get the money from all the jobs Right To Work For Less Created. Sorry Tony these people do not deserve a yes vote they deserve to be voted out of office. Unfortunately that did not take place. They want my vote now because they were too cowardly to put in a real solution. They were not cowardly when they destroyed Michigan by passing Right To Work this will and already has hurt plenty of Union workers and in the end will hurt non union workers too. I could never capitulate with the Devil that is what they are to me. I will be doing everything in my power to advocate a no vote. I am very surprised they did not ram something down the Michiganders throat as they have done in the past. The only reason they did not is they are worried about being re-elected. Raising taxes is a death sentence for a politician that is why they did not make the move. Please anybody reading this remember a yes vote gives them credibility they have non.

    • That’s a cutting off your nose to spite your face argument and I suspect you know that.

      • John Peralta

        I knew some could take it that way I also know if you are a proponent of this proposal you would take it that way. I guess I did not express myself very well that I have a trust factor with these people in charge. I learned a long time ago never get in a cage with an orangoutang because the orangoutang owns the cage.

        • I get that. I do. But, like Tony, I just don’t see any alternatives that are better.

          • BlueDog48226

            The only alternatives posited by Trupiano and Electablog are not necessarily the only alternatives. The conservative Tea Party contingent in Lansing is mortified at the prospect of having to vote for a tax hike. Both, because they perceive that big business will punish them and because their deluded base will punish them at the ballot box. Their solution? Punt to the voters and waste millions in campaign funds to pass this, this thing.

            There is another way, defeat the proposal and force the Tea Party contingent to vote to raise taxes. If they do, they face a backlash from business and their base, if they don’t they will likely face the same. Its a lose-lose for the Tea Party members. They’ve painted themselves into this corner, let them suffer the consequences…

          • Meanwhile, our transportation infrastructure continues to crumble, becoming more and more expensive to repair, working poor families are denied a major tax credit, and our schools are funded at even lower levels. How you score that as a victory eludes me.

            The idea that the tea party will suffer any consequences from this is equally puzzling. They have yet to pay the price for any of the damaging things they have done to our state and supporting a tax increase is something they will never do (they’re purists, too, just like some on this comment thread.) I do hope that when you find yourself allied with the tea party fringe you begin to question your premises.

          • BlueDog48226

            As usual, Chris spews the invective: “I do hope that when you find yourself allied with the tea party fringe you being to question your premises.”

          • That is your idea of invective? Really?

          • BlueDog48226

            Check all your replies, Chris. They are abusive. Disagreements with the narrative of this blog, apparently always seems to devolve into Chris hurtling sarcasm.

      • Nancy Everette

        I suspect you have too thin of a skin…

        • As a blogger, that is decidedly NOT something that I have.

          • MM

            Indeed. But I think Nance’s ‘too thin’ comment was a reply to John P!

          • Ah. Sorry. My bad : )

          • John Peralta

            I am not sure how thick or thin my skin is. Number one since Governor Snyder took office he and his Republican counter parts have done everything in their power to cater to big business on the backs of the workers, retirees and even the unemployed. Everyone on this blog knows the truth about the attack on the middle class in Michigan. These are a group of the biggest Liars that has ever been elected. I can not and will not believe they will do anything that benefits the middle-class workers in Michigan. Do I have a solution? At this time to vote no. Because whatever they profess to say will change after they get the 1% sales tax pushed through will not be exactly as they planned. We will then be the losers. They said before the election that we had a surplus in money and right after they won guess what we have a miraculous shortfall. They will do everything they can to offset the money owed because of the MBT. Saying all this I know that Electablog and Tony Trupiano truly believe what they are stating they are honest hardworking individuals who I truly respect. If they were in charge I would consider this proposal. But that is not the case unfortunately. I know there are a few give backs that they stole but it is not enough for me to give them a green light.

  • Tony, my concern is they bought Dem support based on School and Low Income Tax Break funding and I do not trust that they won’t find a way around providing either of those once it passes. Any words that can put my mind at ease? They have made a living out of advertising school aid $ increases without admitting they actually take more $’s away from the schools by removing other funding sources at the same time. Combine that with what I see as an awful way to fund these initiatives (sales tax – see proposal A, 1994) makes it hard to vote for this.

    • Tony Trupiano

      The constitutional guarantee is in the bill itself. I do NOT expect anyone to buy it hook, line and sinker, I truly don’t, but we HAVE to do something and this I’m not going to vote for it because then they win, or whatever the responding is, just doesn’t get the work done, the money to schools and the working poor, the municipalities who need this meager raise and so much more. Yeah, it sucks, but as I wrote, if not this, then what? Nothing will pass and we all know it so voting no gets us nothing but more reasons to bitch and complain. How is that working for us? Be honest!

      • Thanks my friend. I’ll think long and hard on this. Even this year they’re touting $75/pupil increases when not one district around us is saying they’ll actually end up getting that (or any increase) after they reduce special initiative money and charge the schools drastically more for pensions. If annual inflation increases in the support for schools, working poor and municipalities were included in the guarantee then that would at least make it worth voting for it. I haven’t figured out yet if the bill includes that.

      • MM

        My two cents…caving, conciliating, making deals because we care about people has gotten us where? A Lansing gov’t that is corrupt and dysfunctional, and does not operate in the best interests of the people or the state. To go along with this Frankenstein plan because of a few bread crusts the’ve tossed feels to my like more manipulation, and makes liberals look like they are in agreement & part of the dysfunction. I guess I’m in the camp of sometimes things have to get worse before they get better. Maybe then the voters will pay attention and go to the polls! But we are away from the main issue: increasing the sales tax is 1. Class warfare 2. Will sink Michigan’s economy further 3. Make those who can’t pay… some more!

      • Herman Moore

        The thing is, Tony, some people can’t afford to pay more sales tax, and even more of us simply do not believe the Republicans will not find some way to take this “new” money away from schools, the poor, etc, if this measure is passed. Charlie Brown and the football…

      • Matthew

        “The constitutional guarantee is in the bill itself.” NO.


        While the proposal also “allocates” the proceeds, this does not mean a net increase in revenue for those funds. The legislature could reduce other revenues to these finds.

        Most of the “meat” in this proposal is in the associated STATUTES that would become effective if the electorate adopts the constitutional amendment. Statutes can be changed with a simple majority of both chambers in the legislature – and the GOP has large majorities in both houses.

        This is a house of cards. Please read the proposal, known as “Resolution UU.”

  • Robin

    Sorry, I am still voting no. Just because something really needs to be done and this is the only thing on the table is not reason enough to let our idiot governor and legislators off the hook. Craft a solution that makes EVERYONE pay a fair share, even business, and I’ll vote. But not for this.

  • willow

    I can’t believe you aren’t fed up yet with pedaling the party line. Supporting another tax boondoggle against the poor and middle class is not ok. I am voting no. When the GOP repeals their corporate tax cuts, I’ll agree to raise mine. They are going to steal it and rip off the schools either way. They intend to privatize our schools even if it destroys a whole generation of kids.

    • The Michigan Democratic Party has no “line” on this issue. They haven’t taken a position so there’s no line to pedal.

      • willow

        The line is always the same. “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.” Get along, go along. Don’t rock the boat. “Keeping their powder dry.” “What, you’d rather have President McCain?” It is how we ended up with Ronald Reagan Instead of FDR as the icon for our party. Sorry Chris. No more excuses. They need to be held accountable for selling us out. This time I’m really done. The sooner the whole thing blows up, the sooner it can be put back together – right- for my grand children. They are entitled to a planet, an education, and a job too.

        • This is largely a straw man argument because other than the first one, none of those justifications is being made in this essay or by me in anything I’ve had to say on the matter.

          That blowing up you’re talking about is going to hurt real, live people. The restoration of the Earned Income Tax Credit is a HUGE achievement and one that will profoundly affect countless working poor families in Michigan. The education funding improvements will also have tangible, positive impacts on our kids and their schools.

          And, to repeat, there is no “party line” here. The MDP has not taken a position and I suspect they will not since there is not consensus on this issue.

          • TT

            Considering how may legislative Democrats voted for this monster, I’d say it seems like a “party line.”

  • tljanssen

    Thanks Tony. I’ve gone back and forth on this and thought I had finally settled on a NO vote but your argument about voting for this crappy bill is bottom line correct IMO. Voting YES will give us a net gain even though it falls short of what really needs to be done. I just keep thinking that politics is the art of the possible. I hate the regressive taxation part the worst and I am in no way rich but I drive around enough to know that we’ve got to start fixing our roads because they are in disastrously bad shape now as it is. Seeing this bill pass, I feel, is the lesser of the “evils”. Does anyone want to know what our roads will be like after another winter like the one we’re having now? I’m already horrified by the pothole season immediately ahead.

    Elections have consequences. We have to deal with the cards the voters of Michigan have dealt us.

  • Don_K

    The arguments for a No vote are “heighten the contradictions, if things get bad enough people will have to vote for us” stuff. I don’t believe it. If the roads get worse, Reps will be able to spin it into an argument on how government never works, and the roads need to be privatized. I’m not a fan of Prop 1, but it’s the best we’re gonna get unless someone wants to draft and fund an initiative for the left’s dream alternative. As a result, I’ll hold my nose and vote Yes.

    • This is spot-on analysis. Republicans have been doing their best to make government not work for decades and then using that dysfunction to get elected. They can do it because too many purist Democrats/liberals haven’t figured out they’ve been manipulated and used and played for fools the entire time.

  • Greg Pratt

    As I understand it, this is Tony and Chris’s position: our choice here is between no state funded road repairs/transit or some repairs/transit funding. Vote “yes” for some funding.

    They are democrats. I assume we can all agree that democrats have basically no executive, legislative or judicial levers at their behest. As a result, they advocate to accept our lot and vote for the lesser of two evils.

    Chris is the chair of the Washtenaw County Democratic Party. Tony is a long time labor and democratic party activist. Their strategy for this issue: vote yes even though this is bad policy. Vote yes because we have no power to do otherwise.

    This is a moment and an opportunity to organize and mobilize across political spectrum differences. Tony and Chris seem willing to throw in the towel and “wait until 2016.”

    And people scratch their heads as Michigan Democrats continue to lose election after election? “We knocked on all the doors, we targeted the right voters, we published sensationalistic and scathing blog articles about our opponents…”

    Winning elections will take leadership and a willingness to take actions outside of the electoral process. I am not saying don’t bother with the electoral process, instead, I think democrats like these guys would be more effective and successful at winning elections if they organized and mobilized their supporters to take direct actions toward remedying the road/transit funding hole in our state budget.

    • You seem to think that supporting this proposal means we won’t be advocating for change in 2016 which is, of course, entirely absurd given both my and Tony’s history. Tony is quite explicit that he thinks this Proposal sucks. He (and I) is also pragmatic enough that we can take this position and get SOMETHING rather than nothing and still be in the fight every single day, including advocating for regime change in the next election cycle. In fact, this will give us just that more ammunition come 2016.

      Also, your comment, and those of others on this thread, overlook the fact that Democrats in the state House and Senate worked their asses off and used what little power they have to secure some damn good things that would never have been included without their efforts. Yes, the tax is regressive. That’s why the Democrats fought for and won on the issue of restoring the EITC.

      When we refuse compromise, the left is no better than the “no compromise” tea partiers we malign on an ongoing basis. Causing real harm to people in Michigan just to stay pure doesn’t make you a “real progressive”, in my opinion. It makes you irrelevant.

      My position as the Washtenaw County Democratic Party Chair has no bearing on this issue or this post. However, I appreciate you bringing it up. I don’t brag about it because my views on this blog are my own and have nothing to do with my position as County Party Chair. However, I think it does show that I’m willing to work hard in all areas for the things that I believe in, including spending many hours each week strengthening our County Party and ensuring that we’re poised to make real change come election time and that the idea that I have “thrown in the towel” is laughable.

      • Greg Pratt

        Congratulations, Chris, on your achievements.

      • BillW

        At the risk of sounding wonkish, classic game theory would say vote “No.” Why? Because this is a version of the Prisoner’s Dilemma ( where both sides get something they want vs. hanging tough and risking getting nothing.

        Much research has gone into it, and, without going into detail (I can supply info to those interested), in a game of repeated decisions, you must learn from your “partner’s” response. Based on what we know of Republicans (they don’t live up to their bargains), you cannot trust them and so should vote no. As has been observed, the outcome of this is that things become worse and either Republicans decide to make things better because of the increased pressure, or things become bad enough that people vote them out of power.

        That said, I will be voting YES. Game theory is one thing, but these are people’s lives. A regressive tax is very bad, but restoring EITC is incredibly important and a guaranteed school increase is good (though I agree that the Republicans are going to use this as an excuse to cut general fund spending.) Also, not mentioned in Tony’s original posting is that the replacement of the gas tax is (to my understanding) a percentage tax rather than a fixed price – which is a big change from a flat 19¢/gal tax. This is huge because it means that as gas prices go up, so does the amount raised. Since inflation usually tracks most closely to energy costs, this means that as the cost of building roads or funding schools goes up, so does the amount being collected. (Remember, low inflation won’t last for ever unless the 2016 Presidential election goes to Republicans).

        So I will go the voting booth, hold my nose, and vote Yes.

        • Great comment. Thanks, Bill.

          • BillW

            Thanks Chris. I would also point out that we should also take the lesson of game theory to heart and not agree to partner with the Republicans without ironclad guarantees (in this case, constitutional amendments). They flat out cannot be trusted other than that they will not keep their word.

            But for all of us, we should work toward 2016 (and perhaps more importantly 2020) to change the government! No more sitting on our hands between elections. No more waiting for the right candidate or the right election. We need to organize, organize and ORGANIZE before, during and after elections. There are still way more of us than them!

          • GHT

            The constitutional amendment only guarantees a tax hike. The remainder are only authorized by statute. There are no “iron clad” guarantees. Please someone read the constitutional amendments and the four or five statutes.

  • Herman Moore

    No. Sorry, but this retiree refuses to take any more money out of his wallet and give it to the state. Enough tax shifting and giveaways to business have already taken place, and more are in the works. I’m not going to help them achieve their goal of maximizing business profits and wealth accumulation while fleecing the rest of us. Maybe if the state falls completely apart, the voters will wise up and stop putting anti-government ideologues and business toadies in charge.

    • If you are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, passage of Proposal 1 will mean more money I your pocket, not less, even with the 1% sales tax increase. Plus it provides for increased education funding.

      • Greg Pratt

        Chris, the measure only gets the EITC back to basically where it was before Snyder et al. reduced it in 2011.

        Also, I am not saying you won’t be “advocating for change” in 2016. However, I am saying that I think if you with all your hard work making the county party stronger, one way could be getting an actual victory rather than spinning a victory with your rhetoric.

        • You’re fond of that word spinning when it comes to me, aren’t you? Any time I express an opinion you disagree with, I’m “spinning” whether it’s here or on your Facebook page where you call yourself “Facer Spacer”.

          You’re also fond of putting words in my mouth. I have never said this was a victory. I said it is far better than the nothing so many here seem to be advocating for. Ask someone whose EITC got slashed to almost nothing if they prefer a 20% tax credit or the paltry 6% credit they have now. Seriously, go ask someone who is working full time and has to choose between rent, utilities, and medicine for their kids which sounds better to them.

          I’m wide open to hear your opinion about what constitutes the victory that I’m not already working on/for. Defeating Prop 1 won’t be a victory. It means our roads will get worse, our schools will have less funding, and the working poor remain screwed.

          There is a concept in accounting called “sunk costs”. It basically says you can’t logically evaluate any situation based on what you’ve already lost or spent. You have to evaluate it from the position you are in now because you won’t get back a sunk cost. The EITC is 6% now, road funding is a fraction of what is needed to repair our crumbling infrastructure (which gets more and more expensive to repair the longer we wait), and our schools are down nearly $300/student from what they will be if Prop 1 is passed. Based on this, the logical choice, in my opinion, is to pass this proposal and to continue battling on all the other fronts we battle on every day.

          To everyone who says you can’t trust the GOP I say “I agree 100%”. That includes not trusting them to fix things without the sales tax increase in a way that doesn’t royally fuck over even more vulnerable people if Prop 1 goes down. These people are petulant, vindictive assholes and if you think they’ll be nicer the next time around if Prop 1 fails, I couldn’t possibly disagree more. It will be worse. MUCH worse.

          Just so you know, the Washtenaw County Democratic Party’s next General Membership meeting on March 7th will be a forum on this issue held in partnership with the Eastern Washtenaw Dems. It will be 10:30 a.m. until noon at the Whittaker Road Library in Ypsilanti. Stay tuned for more details.

          • Greg Pratt

            Your words:”That’s why the Democrats fought for and won on the issue of restoring the EITC.”

            This is the challenge I have entertaining the idea of collaborating with you Chris. It is about what you [“I”] are working on, instead of we.

            Your words: “I’m wide open to hear your opinion about what constitutes the victory that I’m not already working on/for.”

            Even still, I wish you best of luck to you and your Democratic Party club panel discussion. I am glad you are in this fight. Your reporting on the EM situation has been very helpful.

          • Sorry. I misunderstood. I thought you meant the Proposal itself. I still contend that getting the EITC hike in this proposal is a victory given the alternative.

          • Greg Pratt

            I don’t see how poor people get ahead if they are getting this credit while having their taxes raised on goods they buy. Seems to me that poor people will have the same lot whether the ballot measure passes or not.

            Also, let’s not forget that this is a constitutional amendment, not just a piece of legislation.

          • BlueDog48226

            Actually, it both. The constitutional amendment would raise the sales tax and “dedicate” the revenue to certain funds. But, there is no guarantee that the overall revenue in these funds, increases.

            One of the associated bills increases the EITC, but that will not have an effect until 2017 when people file their income taxes. ASSUMING, the legislature does not change this…

            Of course with a super-majority in the senate and a strong majority in the house, the GOP can do what it wants. The “victory” is illusory. Its only a promise – subject to GOP changes…

  • Not the HFA

    So, Proposal 1 gets the support of Very Serious People. So, what? The proposal makes surprising few changes to the Michigan constitution, but would “trigger” statutes that can easily be changed by the Republican majorities in the legislature.

    About the only thing guaranteed in the constitutional amendment is a tax hike. That’s it. Really, Very Serious People are supporting ether. Vapor. Clouds.

    Please also review the House Fiscal Agency’s legislative analysis.

    The full impact of the EITC won’t be felt until FY2017, by then, the state will be in full-blown “Kansas” mode, and will reduce the credit to make up for another “unexpected” revenue shortfall.

    • What does “Very Serious People” mean?

      And, yes, as I said in my initial comment above, this thing sucks. The only thing that sucks worse is not passing it. If Proposal 1 doesn’t pass, the EITC, currently at 6%, will remain 6% in 2017 instead of going to 20%. These are the realities we’re living with.

      • Not the HFA

        The only thing guaranteed in the proposal is a constitutional tax hike.

        • What does “Very Serious People” mean?

          • Not the HFA


            THAT is the only reality of this proposal.

            Please tell us you’ve read Resolution UU. Common!

            VSP? Read Krugman.

  • John Peralta

    They can not find money to fix the roads or the budget shortfall but they have money to move the Senate building to share a building with the lobbyist? Here is an email I received from the Democratic party below:


    Gov. Snyder and Republicans in Lansing have increased taxes on middle-class families, cut education, failed to fix our roads, and run up a $350 million deficit.

    Now they have a $70 million scheme to move their Senate office building 50 yards down the street into a building they would share with lobbyists!

    Tell Gov. Snyder and Sen. Majority Leader Arlan Meekof: don’t recklessly spend $70 million of our hard-earned tax dollars on fancy new digs for Senate Republicans!

    Wouldn’t $70 million of your hard-earned tax dollars be better spent fixing the roads, buying textbooks for kids, building a stronger middle class or filling a $350 million budget hole?

    Sign our petition: Say no to Gov. Snyder and Senator Meekhof’s $70 million “room with a view” office move.

    Thanks for standing with us,

    Michigan Dems HQ

    P.S. If the Republicans’ $70 million Senate office move succeeds, Michigan would be the only state in the nation that houses legislative offices down the hall from special interest lobbyists.

  • Jeff Gaynor

    The proposal will fail. I will be voting yes – both for the reasons above, but also because, given the ‘new’ legislature is even more ideologically perverse than the previous one, any alternative will be worse. And no, I don’t have faith that even this will get people to vote differently in the next election. Logic and even self-interest isn’t the driving force for voters (and non-voters) currently .

    • This is exactly where I land on this issue.

  • bubba

    I am so fed up with corruption! the MTA sold out to the State, and counties. one thing that the MTA isn’t saying is that this money will all go to the counties in the form of 3 million. in addition, the townships will only get up 9.00+- per capita. meaning for a township of 12,000, that’s only a petty $108,000. now, this is the only extra cash a township will use because they are also hit hard with the economic times as well. additionally, according to public act 51. the county only has to maintain the roads, that is local roads. and as such, maintain means only pothole repair. lastly, townships are hinted at by counties to be the other 50 1- 100% of payee toward the local roads. thus, when and if this piece of crap legislation passes, our local roads will be worse off then they are now!