Michigan, Taxes — December 18, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Michigan state tax revenues up, cities not benefitting, laying off cops


Funny how that works, isn’t it?

The state of Michigan’s tax revenues were up in November, beating estimates, according to the Senate Fiscal Agency (pdf). The increase in revenues was driven, in part, by higher taxes on Michiganders. As I wrote in my piece last spring, “The tax timebomb that explodes in Michigan in 2012 is MUCH worse than you thought”, the tax increase passed by the so-called “anti-tax” Republicans disproportionately impacts lower income residents.

What is shocking is how easy the budget goes on upper income Michiganders and how astonishingly HARD it hits lower income residents. Take a look at the average tax increase broken down by income group:

In fact, when you look at the total state and local taxes as a percentage of income of those making $334,000 or more per year vs. those making $17,000 year or less, the poorest people pay 1000 times more than those at the top of the food chain. The poorest Michiganders pay 1.0% of their income vs. 0.001% for the top earners

So, how is this working out for Michigan’s struggling cities?

Not so well, as it turns out.

Michigan has lost roughly 1 in 5 law enforcement officers since 2001, as a lingering recession led cash-strapped cities and townships to lay off police, trim services and, in some cases, turn over patrols to county sheriffs.

“Since 2001 it’s been a steady decline with cutbacks, layoffs or attrition,” said Fred Timpner, executive director of the Michigan Association of Police, which represents law enforcement officers. “Even the largest suburbs have laid off officers.”

The state’s law enforcement ranks dropped to 18,834 as of Oct. 31 from 22,488 in 2001, says the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards.

Even as the state’s economic outlook brightens, the cuts are still coming, stirring controversy among residents who fear that shrinking or shutting the local police force means giving criminals free reign.

As our cities struggle under shrinking revenues, many are shifting responsibility for policing to county sheriff departments. It’s only a matter of time before the trickle up effect kicks in and these counties begin to see their budgets strangled.

Perhaps this is a big part of the reason that, despite all of the rhetoric coming from Governor Snyder and Michigan Republicans, Michigan is still ranked only 47th in the country as a good place to do business.

But, hey, they can always blame it on the unions.