Thursday, April 28, 2011

House and Senate NEWS!

Gov. Rick SNYDER's plan to replace the Michigan Business Tax (MBT) with a 6 percent corporate income tax passed out of the House today with a vote of 56-53; six Republicans joined all of the chamber's 43 Democrats in voting in opposition.

To pay for the roughly $1.73 billion in business tax cuts, the plan eliminates or reduces several income tax exemptions including the exemption for pensions, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the state's film credit. It also freezes the income tax rate at 4.35 percent until 2013. Combined, it's $1.48 billion in income tax changes.

Today, the House Appropriations Committee agreed to reduce K-12 funding by $170 per student plus an additional 3.9 percent -- a reduction that translates into a per pupil cut of $455 to $501 for 2011-12.

Comments from Legislators:
“This bill is about the future of our state and it's high time we put our families back to work for our generation and our kids," said Rep. Lisa Posthumus LYONS (R-Lowell).

Democrats described the Snyder plan as businesses getting fat at the expense of working families and seniors, who will be paying for the tax plan through higher income taxes.

Many of you shared letters with me from Representative Crawford that he had written in response to your Legislative Blasts. We need to question, who are the Republicans listening to? Their constituents? I don’t think so.

There is more disagreement in the Michigan Senate regarding tax policy and the use of the School Aid Fund. Yesterday, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, a Republican, was forced to cast the deciding vote on Senate Bill 183 (it had resulted in a tied vote on the Senate floor.) Calley voted in favor of Bill 183.

Bill 183 cuts foundation grants for schools by $340 per pupil. The bill gives schools with half-day kindergarten programs just half of a foundation grant. Senators did restore funding for school bus safety inspections.

While this cut is $130 less than the original proposal, it is still a huge cut to education. It reminds me of a saying I heard back in the days of Engler that goes something like this: propose death so they will accept the amputation.

On a positive note, language in Senate Bill 183 to mandate school employees pay $13,000 or 20 percent of the cost of their health insurance was stripped from the bill.

The Future Course –
When both the Senate and the House have final bills, a joint committee will need to meet to resolve the differences between the two bills.

In the meantime, there seems to be some hope from the members of the Michigan Senate! I believe your blasts are making a difference. Although the battle is not over, I thank all of you for lending your voices to the battle!