Lutz: Business should share the burden of road funding
Michigan’s roads are in dire need of repair. From folks commuting to work on a daily basis to our state’s elected officials, everyone knows it and everyone agrees we need to do something about it. However, the only solution we’ve heard from the halls of Lansing or from corporate lobbyists has been more of the same: make middle class and working families pay for it and let corporations off the hook.
Let’s be clear, Michigan’s families and seniors have already paid their fair share. They were hit with a $1.6 billion tax increase in 2011. The sad part is that money did not go toward our roads or schools. Money was taken from middle class and working families to pay for $2 billion in tax cuts for corporations. It was essentially Robin Hood, but in reverse. Sadly, this giveaway went without any guarantee that jobs would be created or incomes raised.
In fact, the exact opposite happened. Between 2011 when the corporate tax cuts were enacted to 2014, job growth dropped 66 percent. According to the Pew Charitable trusts median incomes in Michigan declined between 2000 and 2013. This slow down in job growth and incomes happened because money was taken from hardworking families and given to corporations that did not fulfill their promise of job creation.
So when it comes to finding a solution to fixing Michigan roads and bridges, it’s time for a fair fix that doesn’t keep demanding more and more from middle class and working families. And that is what our ballot proposal does.
The Fair Fix ballot proposal says that when it comes to fixing our roads, Michigan’s seniors and middle class families should not be shouldering all the heavy lifting so corporations can continue to get a free ride.
Our plan is simple and straightforward. Our proposal recoups about half ($900 million) of the $2 billion that corporations received in tax cuts that failed to create the promised jobs and puts that money to the roads. Only corporations, not small businesses, would be asked to pay an increased corporate income tax of 5 percent. And by the way, corporations still get to keep half of the tax cut they received. Michigan families are protected.
Now, corporations and their army of lobbyists will do just about anything to protect their tax cuts and keep Michigan families picking up the tab. But consider these facts: Corporations pay less than they probably ever have. In fact, today Michigan families contribute 20 times what corporations pay. The situation has become so absurd that according to a Detroit News analysis, taxes on smoking and drinking contribute more to maintaining our great state than big corporations do.
The money raised under this proposal would be guaranteed to go to the roads. For the money to be diverted elsewhere, it would require a three-fourths vote in the legislature, which is extremely unlikely. This proposal is a much stronger guarantee than other road proposals that have been backed by the corporate lobbyists, which are often diverted to pay for other areas.
Corporations use our roads too and should help pay for them. It’s that simple.
Tom Lutz is spokesman for Citizens for Fair Taxes.