Taxes — July 31, 2015 at 10:03 am

Michigan Chamber of Commerce lobbyist insults retirees with pensions, derisively saying they “got a free ride”


Yesterday, the Michigan Board of Canvassers met to decide on a variety proposals destined for the 2016 ballot. One of them is being submitted by Citizens for Fair Taxes that would restore corporate taxes for the largest corporations to 11%. The move would raise roughly $900 million for road repairs in our state.

After the meeting, Michigan Chamber of Commerce Senior Director of Tax & Regulatory Reform Tricia Kinley held a press conference where she continued the doomsday scenario freakout that her group has been engaged in for the past couple of weeks.

Then, in response to a question about corporations being given monster tax breaks that have created a giant crater in our state budget, Kinley decided it was appropriate to insult retired seniors, saying with palpable derision that they “got a free ride” with their tax-free pensions.

Click the arrow button to listen to the audio:


REPORTER: What about the guiding philosophy that these companies have gotten so much in tax breaks they’re kind of the problem?

KINLEY: That is totally misleading. When Michigan moved to a corporate income tax for the past 30 years before that, 95,000 small and mid-sized companies were being double-taxed. Now, they’re simply paying once. Most people find that fair. Unfortunately, these unions want to capitalize on that and mislead voters into thinking that there was this giant windfall. Well, it’s too bad that folks that got a free ride with tax-free pensions are unhappy about that.

What Kinley fails to mention is that small businesses are not impacted by the Fair Tax proposal. And to suggest that $2 billion a year in corporate tax breaks isn’t a “windfall” is ludicrous. But to say that retirees who worked their whole lives for their pensions “got a free ride” and it was “fair” that they were forced to start paying higher taxes – some as much as an extra $3,000 a year – in order to pay for the windfall reaped by Michigan corporations is insulting beyond measure.

Randy Iuliano, a retiree from Kalamazoo who attended the meeting to support the ballot proposal expressed his disgust at the remark:

Saying that retirees that earned a pension are getting a “free ride” is a slap in the face to every senior citizen in Michigan. We worked hard and played by the rules and never expected our retirements would be taxed so corporations could get tax cuts. The Chamber of Commerce should be ashamed and needs to apologize immediately. We didn’t get a “free ride” — we got a broken promise.

Unfortunately for Mr. Iuliano and the other retirees in Michigan who had to start paying thousands of dollars more every year so that corporations can make a bigger profit margin, they won’t be receiving an apology. The Chamber of Commerce is little more than a front group for corporate interests and they make no apologies for running over the people who get in the way of their pursuit of corporate profits.

Even if they are senior citizens.

[CC photo credit: longislandwins | Flickr, meme courtesy of the Michigan Democratic Party]