Second Mich. ballot proposal campaign suspends its efforts

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — A ballot proposal campaign that aimed to increase taxes paid by wealthy Michigan residents is ending its efforts to get before voters in November amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

The campaign named Fair Tax Michigan announced Wednesday its decision, becoming the second potential 2020 ballot proposal to collapse while emergency orders limit public interactions around the state.

Normally, these types of campaigns depend on large gatherings to collect necessary petition signatures in a bid to qualify for the ballot.

A campaign called Fair Tax Michigan announced an effort on Friday, Feb. 28, 2020, to institute a graduated income tax in the state.

"While our campaign is suspending our efforts to collect signatures, we are not suspending our campaign for a fair tax system," the coalition said in a press release. "We plan to continue building our coalition, planning for 2022 and communicating about the need for more funding for education, roads and clean water, and the need for a fair income tax structure in Michigan."

Under Fair Tax Michigan's proposed constitutional amendment, state lawmakers would have to enact a law reducing the current 4.25% income tax rate for individuals making less than $175,000 a year by 2022. They also would have to create tax rates that increase based on income levels and produce more than $1.5 billion in additional net revenue by 2023.

Opponents said the proposal would have "a devastating impact on the state’s economic competitiveness."

The campaign needed to collect 425,059 valid petition signatures by July 6 to get the proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot in November — a difficult task even without restrictions that bar most public gatherings.

On Thursday, the Coalition to Close Lansing Loopholes, which sought to overhaul state lobbying policies, said it was suspending its efforts and refocusing on 2022.

A third ballot proposal campaign, Fair and Equal Michigan, which aims to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Michigan, has changed its tactics and is mailing petitions to supporters to sign and send back.