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OPINION

Rep. Leonard: Michiganders deserve a tax cut

Tom Leonard

Michigan’s economy has made incredible progress since the 2008 recession. We are becoming a model for other states in the nation for fiscal responsibility. We enjoy a budget surplus. People are going back to work. The exodus of Michiganders to other states has slowed. Our children are moving back home to raise their families. Small businesses are opening. Indeed, the sunrise over Lake Huron showcases a much brighter state than we’ve seen in recent memory. But we can do so much more — we can be so much more — if we just get government out of their way and trust the people.

As I and other Republicans knocked on doors on the campaign trail across our wondrous state this fall, from the western end of the U.P. to a resurgent Detroit and the Ohio border, we heard one consistent message, almost a plea: ‘Cut my taxes. Let me spend what I earn on my family.’ Republicans heard our neighbors. So, our first order of business will be to cut the income taxes of every Michigander.

We want to put our hard-working taxpayers first and increase the size of everyone’s paychecks, because they know how best to spend their money. People work hard to make ends meet, but too many are still struggling to balance their family budgets every month. That is why it is well past time for the state Legislature to finally reduce Michigan’s backbreaking income tax.

There will be challenges to getting this done. The tax spenders will not yield quietly. That is because the tax spenders believe your tax dollars belong to them. They are already claiming that giving your money back is impossible, irresponsible even. The more money they have of yours, the more control they have over your lives, so they are predictably saying the government needs more of your money. But Michigan is not the same state it used to be, and our state government does not panic like it used to do. We can finally afford these reforms because of several years of good, conservative budgeting.

This wasn’t always so. The fact is former Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s disastrous tax credit giveaways put our state budget in a bind and handcuffed our taxpayers. We have spent the past few years fixing the mistakes of the past and rebuilding Michigan’s economy, and we will fix this mistake, too. Our pledge is that Republicans will stand up against the tax spenders and fight for the taxpayers. This is the job we were sent here to do.

When the government cut a deal to raise the income tax in 2007 to cover an emergency budget hole, Granholm promised the people that the rate would eventually fall back to 3.9 percent. It was written into law, but then that law was undone before the reduction could take place. A temporary tax hike was locked in permanently. No more.

Michigan is a special place to call home. There is no place like it in America. Our people are strong, hopeful. We put America on wheels. We were the arsenal of democracy. To paraphrase President Ronald Reagan, Michigan can now be that shining state on a hill where we protect our most vulnerable, where investment is welcome, risk is rewarded, and big dreams can be realized.

I am going to do all I can to keep this promise to you: Republicans will cut your taxes. It is our best way forward to building a stronger, more prosperous future for Michigan.

Rep. Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt, is speaker of the Michigan House.