Editorial

Legislature: Focus on tax revenue replacement

November 24, 2012
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In the short time between the presidential election and Thanksgiving break, one could question whether legislators are ready to finish business in the lame duck session now beginning.

It has been suggested that voter disapproval of “collective bargaining” Proposition 2 and of “home-based caregiver unionization” Proposition 4 opens the door to the Right to Work legislation long supported by some Grand Rapids business leaders who succeeded in affirming its place on the agenda created during the West Michigan Policy Forum this fall.

It is also anticipated that the legislative lame-ducks may finally be able to move legislation repealing the business personal property income tax. Agreeing with Gov. Rick Snyder’s assessment that the right-to-work legislation is unnecessary and divisive, the Business Journal believes focus should be given the tax structure, but not just a repeal of what amounts to a penalty tax (particularly as manufacturers are ready to move the new economy forward to the next chapter) but its necessary revenue replacement.

This lame-duck group really is not so much, with many returning office holders who well know — and should by now be ready with — revenue replacement solutions. Here’s our sign: No such discussion exists, except “someone” who said “someone” knows that Lt. Gov. Brian Calley “has ideas.”

That’s not good enough for the private sector now completing final preparations for 2013 budgets and projections, and it is an impossible situation for local governments and school districts now nearly halfway through the current fiscal year. The impact of another loss of revenue is more than crippling for provision of real services not already eliminated by Michigan’s continued theft of revenue sharing from local governments to balance the state budget.

It is well past time, too, to review the studies and research by the Center for Michigan nonprofit think tank, which has demonstrated year-after-year that the most successful economic regions are not regions of low taxes but instead of a higher learning and educated work force supported by higher compensation from new economy jobs. Jobs are moving to those populations, regardless of business tax structure. Intellectual property rules.

Lou Glazer this month authored yet another updated analysis of such divides between high and low education attainment sectors, looking at regions within Michigan. U.S. Census Bureau results show little improvement in this region toward educational attainment. And even while the Grand Rapids regional economy performed better than the Michigan economy, the decade showed the decline that makes this the poorest of all metropolitan areas in the country with a population of 1 million or more (see the column on page 18).

In this regard we look to Gov. Snyder to acknowledge the facts and offer solutions that provide a reality-based relentless positive action.

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