Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Michigan Greens Urge "NO" Vote May 5 on Sales-Tax Hike, Transportation-Funding Shift

The Green Party of Michigan notes the following:

Ecological Wisdom      *  Social Justice
Grassroots Democracy  *  Non-Violence

Green Party of Michigan

**  News Release  **
**  ------------  **
  February 2, 2015

For More Information, Contact:
Fred Vitale, GPMI Chair
    (313) 580-4905

Art Myatt, GPMI Vice-Chair

Michigan Greens Urge "NO" Vote May 5 on
Sales-Tax Hike, Transportation-Funding Shift
    The Green Party of Michigan (GPMI) has taken a unanimous stand
urging Michigan citizens to vote NO on Tuesday, May 5 and reject a
Constitutional amendment which would raise state sales and use taxes
from 6% to 7%.

    The amendment is part of a plan passed by the Legislature at the
last minute in December's lame-duck session that would also shift
transportation funding and delete higher education from eligibility for
school-aid funds in favor of job-training programs.

    But GPMI Vice Chair Art Myatt of Pleasant Ridge notes the amendment
itself is the only thing the Legislature couldn't easily change later if
the people vote yes.  “The importance of bills to be triggered by
passage should depend on how much you trust the Legislature, and any
future Legislatures, to actually work for policies you approve.”
Despite promises made to schools and cities when the sales tax rose from
4% to 6%, tax cuts, tax breaks and revenue reallocations by the state
government combined with falling property values resulting in dropping
property-tax revenues made their financial problems as bad as before.

    This time, more funding of public transportation is promised – but,
Myatt points out, it is not guaranteed to last even to 2016, much less
the decades building good public transportation infrastructure would
take.  “We could wind up with a 7% tax rate and poor, underfinanced
public transportation, just as we now have a 6% tax and financially
stressed schools and cities.”

    Myatt urges a NO vote based on what the amendment itself would do:
  raise the regressive sales and use taxes; exempt gasoline and Diesel
fuel from those taxes; and end using school-aid funds for higher
education – for no stated reason – but instead use the same taxes to
fund “public community colleges, public career and technical education
programs, [and] scholarships for students attending either public
community colleges or public career and technical education programs”.

    Myatt has created a comparison of the text of affected sections of
the state Constitution, as they stand now and as the amendment would
change them, at:


    GPMI's platform calls for a different approach.  "Whatever fuel our
internal-combustion engines use, the exhaust pumps more carbon dioxide
into the atmosphere.  Efficiency helps – but to reduce our contribution
to climate change, we need to do less driving and much less flying.
GPMI supports building a good network of efficient public transportation
while minimizing use of destructive road salt."  Other Green policy
ideas include prioritizing maintenance of existing roads and
infrastructure ahead of building more, and taxing Diesel fuel at the
same rate as gasoline – high enough to pay for that maintenance.

    Tom Mair of Traverse City, a 2014 GPMI County Commission candidate,
makes a timely comment.  “It's Groundhog Day – a reminder that even wild
animals know we'll be facing six more weeks of winter potholes and road
salt, then more road repairs once spring comes.  Only our legislators
seem determined to ignore the past, and doom us to repeat it – and pay
for it, too.”

    John Anthony La Pietra of Marshall, GPMI's Attorney General
candidate in 2014, objects to dropping school-aid funding for higher
education.  "Job skills are important, but they shouldn't be the main
purpose of public education.  If you only ever learn enough to do a job,
you won't know how to exercise your rights as a citizen – or how to
enrich your life and your community."

    And Sherry A. Wells of Ferndale, a 2014 Green candidate for State
Board of Education who is running again for 2016, adds that a Michigan
School Business Officials newsletter
(http://msbo.org/newsnotes/msboupdate_12-7-15.html) says added tax
revenue raised by the plan does not mean there will be more money for
K-12 classroom education.  In fact, there may be less.

    For more information about GPMI and its values, visit


You can also “like” the Green Party of Michigan US Facebook page


and follow GPMI's Twitter feed @MIGreenParty


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Green Party of Michigan  *  PO Box 504; Warren, MI  48090  *
313-815-2025  *  www.MIGreenParty.org