Last week, the Koch brothers-funded group American for Prosperity held a “Day at the Capitol” event in Lansing, Michigan where they spelled out their corporatist agenda for Michigan (you can see the agenda HERE.) Numerous Republican legislators were on the agenda:
- House Speaker Tom Leonard
- Speaker Pro Tempore Lee Chatfield
- House Majority Floor Leader Dan Lauwers
- State Representative Lana Theis
- State Representative Jim Runestad
- State Representative Gary Glenn
- State Representative Jim Tedder
- State Representative Steve Marino
- State Representative Jeff Noble
- State Representative Aaron Miller
- State Senator Patrick Colbeck
- State Senator Judy Emmons
- State Senator Joe Hune
(NOTE: It’s no surprise that Lana Theis is tying herself to the Koch brothers. She just announced she’s running to replace Joe Hune as the Senator from the 22nd State Senate District and clearly wants to keep the campaign donations flowing.)
AFP is focusing on four key areas:
“Crony” Tax Credits
AFP is advising a “NO” vote on Senate Bills 111-115 (“Michigan Thrive”) and Senate Bills 242-244 (“Business Leaders for Michigan”.) These are corporate tax cuts aimed at spurring economic growth. They are against them because they target specific corporations rather than ALL corporations (including the ones that enrich the Koch brothers and their allies.)
There are few things the Koch brothers and their corporatist pals love more than getting rid of pensions that allow workers to retire in dignity. And the ones they hate the most are teachers’ pensions through the under-funded Michigan Public School Employee Retirement System (MSPERS.) These “costs” are too high for us to pay as a society, in their minds, and they are doing everything they can to eliminate them rather than to shore them up for the future. We simply cannot have the tyranny of retired teachers having a decent income after all those years
living as parasites on the jugular vein of society educating our future generations.
One thing these corporatists DO love more than getting rid of pensions is busting unions. They plan to introduce legislation to force unions to regularly recertify, giving the union busting corporatists a chance to convince union members to do away with their unions to save themselves some money on union dues. This is a self-inflicted wound for these workers, of course, since, without unions to protect them, their wages and benefits will slowly deteriorate and any money they saved by not paying dues will be obliterated by their diminished compensation.
This is one area we will need to be especially vigilant about in the coming weeks and months.
Income Tax Reduction
This heading is actually a misnomer. The Koch brothers and their corporate friends are not interested in “income tax reduction”. What they want is “income tax elimination“. They are recommending a “YES” vote on House Bill 4001 and Senate Bill 4. These are bills that would eliminate the Michigan income tax completely, creating a $1.1 BILLION hole in Michigan’s state budget. But that’s okay because, according to them, Michigan is running a budget surplus of $300-$500 million. They don’t want to take any chances that that “surplus” would go into education or repairing our crumbling roads or shoring up pensions or, God help us, fixing the catastrophe in Flint. To hear them tell it, our state government is awash in cash and needs to be cut.
You might have heard that the effort to do this crashed and burned last month, a strategic faceplant by new House Speaker Tom Leonard. But, according to AFP, they could reconsider these bills “through a motion to reconsider.”
This is what we are up against and the amount of cash that flows from AFP, the Koch brothers, and their corporatist allies like the DeVos family into the coffers of Republicans is breathtaking. Be watching for these items to rise to the top of the agenda this year. Because when they speak, their Republican minions jump and dance and do what they are told.