Michigan unions give $1.1 million for business tax hike proposal campaign
Citizens for Fair Taxes has raised $1.15 million in its campaign to require that businesses ante up $900 million a year to fix Michigan’s bad roads through a huge tax increase, according to its first state disclosure statement.
Filed this week, disclosure statement shows the labor-backed group has received $503,900 from the Michigan Council of Carpenters, $400,000 from Operating Engineers Local 324 and $250,000 from the Michigan Laborers District Council.
Citizens for Fair Taxes has stepped into the legislative void over the need for at least a $1.2 billion increase in annual road repair funding. It’s proposing a 2016 ballot initiative that would ask voters to approve a hefty business tax hike earmarked for road and bridge fixes.
Republican majority lawmakers are stalemated over how much of the added road funding should come from budget shuffling compared with tax increases. House Democrats have proposed a business tax increase similar to that of Citizens for Fair Taxes.
“Our campaign will have the all the resources it needs to put the Fair Fix proposal before voters and make the case that corporations should pay their fair share when it comes to fixing Michigan’s crumbling infrastructure,” ballot committee spokesman Tom Lutz said in a statement.
“Middle-class families should not be forced to constantly pay the tab while corporations get a pass. Corporations use the roads and they should help pay for them.”
The Michigan Chamber of Commerce, which spent millions of its members’ money defeating organized labor’s attempt in 2012 to enshrine union rights in the state constitution, predicts voters will reject another ballot proposal from unions – if it actually ends up on the November 2016 ballot.
“Voters were very clear on May 5 that they don’t want another ballot issue to fix the roads,” said Rich Studley, president and CEO of the state chamber, which has advocated for a legislative solution.
Conyers’ fund raised $66K
Since setting up a fund last year to help pay his legal fees, U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Detroit, has raised $66,000 and spent nearly $60,000 of it through June 30, according to reports filed with the Internal Revenue Service.
Conyers registered the John Conyers 13th District Legal Expense Trust as a 527 political organization in May 2014 with the stated purpose “to defray legal fees and other expenses as permitted by the rules of the U.S. House of Representatives.”
A federal judge in May 2014 restored Conyers’ name on the primary ballot after Michigan and county officials said he failed to secure enough valid petition signatures to get on the ballot. They disqualified hundreds of voter signatures because several of his circulators were unregistered voters or had problems with the accuracy of registration addresses – both requirements under state law.
Conyers’ lawyers and the American Civil Liberties Union argued the voter registration requirement was unconstitutional because it limited political speech, and Detroit federal Judge Matthew Leitman ruled the case was likely to succeed. Conyers ultimately defeated the Rev. Horace Sheffield in the Democratic primary.
Conyers’ expense fund reported spending $59,694 through June 30, with about 41 percent going toward legal services by two firms, Perkins Coie in Seattle and Honigman Miller Schwartz & Cohen in Detroit. A third of the expenses, $18,900, paid for data services by Revsix Data Systems in Pontiac. The rest covered fundraising, consulting, accounting services and office supplies, according to the reports.
Special interest groups and unions mostly contributed to Conyers’ fund, including $10,000 from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ Political Action Committee. Another $5,000 each came from the Human Rights Campaign; the American Association for Justice, a trade group representing trial lawyers; the American Federation of Teachers’ Committee on Political Education; the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union; and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers PAC Educational Fund.
Kasich to stump here again
Republican presidential candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kasich is planning his fourth trip to Michigan next week, with two public events planned in Southfield and the Lansing area.
On Tuesday, the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce is hosting Kasich for a luncheon at the Eagle Eye Golf Club in Bath. The two-term Ohio governor and former congressman is expected to answer questions about his policy positions on government and business.
Kasich will answer questions about his foreign policy views at a previously announced public forum Monday afternoon in Southfield sponsored by Americans for Peace, Prosperity and Security, a group headed by recently retired U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Howell.
The national security forum is part of a series of one-on-one interviews APPS is hosting across the country with Republican presidential candidates.
The forum will be held at 1 p.m. Monday at University Technology and Learning Center at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield. The one-hour forum is free and tickets can be reserved on an Eventbrite website.
6 hopefuls headed Up North
Barring a last-minute diversion of Donald Trump’s jet, the lineup of presidential candidates at the Sept. 18-20 Michigan Republican’s biennial leadership meeting seems set at six after Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul committed earlier this week to attending.
Trump, the GOP frontrunner, will likely not be in the mix.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former computer executive Carly Fiorina will each share the microphone with Kasich and Paul during conference meals on Sept. 18 and 19.
State GOP chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel personally invited Trump to attend the Mackinac Island conference on Aug. 11 when he held a sold-out rally at the Birch Run Expo Center.
“We just never really heard back from their campaign on that,” said Sarah Anderson, spokeswoman for the Michigan Republican Party.
Based on the tentative schedule, it would be difficult to accommodate Trump or any of the other 10 GOP presidential candidates who were invited to speak, Anderson said.
“We’re, more or less, full on spots,” Anderson said.
Contributors: Gary Heinlein, Melissa Nann Burke and Chad Livengood