MBT: Get It Done

December 4, 2006
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Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s initiative to resolve Michigan’s business tax dilemma before the end of the year is deserving of praise, as is the cooperation of the legislature. State Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema’s initial assessment and willingness to get that work finished on the eve of his term limit also is good news for Michigan businesses. Business owners have constructed business plans for 2007 and deserve to know how the legislature intends to affect the bottom line.

As Grand Rapids Business Journal opined after the elections in this space in the Nov. 13 issue, the expertise of sitting legislators is vital to the long-term success of new tax law. Waiting for the newly elected to “come up to speed” does not present a good alternative in an era of widely accepted and understood “just in time” delivery of goods and services. Indeed, this legislature has been weighing a great number of suggestions and positions offered from business leaders across the state since blowing up the reviled Single Business Tax in August. Much pro and con has already been given discussion, and deserves decision by those who initiated the action.

Grand Rapids Business Journal is greatly disappointed that State Rep. Michael Sak, D-Grand Rapids, prefers to wait until the New Year. We are equally disappointed in comments from State Rep. Fulton Sheen, R-Plainwell, chair of the House Tax Policy Committee, who negates his responsibilities with a whine that there will not be enough time in the lame-duck session to clear a new tax bill. We suggest that taxpayers are not adverse to legislators working overtime to achieve delivery on this proposal. We would be hard-pressed to believe that the legislators in charge of such policies are less prepared than Granholm to make decisions. It is just as likely that the press of defining the 2008 budget will not provide any luxury of “additional” time.

There is agreement with Sikkema’s assessment that Granholm’s proposed Michigan Business Tax is a “credible plan,” and which includes many of the recommendations from economic development experts and business leaders, including the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.

The MBT would be a relief to small businesses, and the creative, inventive, entrepreneurial era upon us needs such relief. Especially significant is Granholm’s inclusion of a research credit that not only assists those staying in Michigan to do business, but assists in luring such new economy businesses into this economically ravaged state. The gubernatorial election centered on Michigan’s economy and constituents expect action, not stalling.

The MBT provision to greatly reduce the personal property tax paid by businesses on equipment and machinery also should be welcome news based on recommendations from business groups.

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