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September 13, 2007

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I don't buy the argument that cutting the legislators salary won't make enough of a difference. You are right, but cut their salary any way.

I am willing to sacrifice if they are willing to sacrifice. But when I see the automatic pay raises, lavish health care benefits, mileage reimbursements and the other perks, I am less trusting of their pleas of 'needing' more money.

Hey if the tax money was actually going to education, that would be great. But when I see tax money wasted on hiring out of state consultants to coming up with new 'branding strategies" for struggling downtowns and unbelievably generous employee benefits and automatic raises that out pace inflation and that are not found in any other industry, it is difficult to say I support giving more of my money to the government.

In our own community, the City of Ypsilanti wants to implement a City Income Tax. For Ypsilanti residents that have jobs, the resulting tax increase is, on average, a 30% increase in the taxes they pay to the City. Yet in the last 5 years we have seen our water bills jump by an astounding 60%, we are slapped with an additional 87% surcharge on our bills to pay for water main replacements, and we have seen our millage rate go up by over 5 mills in that same period. This, despite a Proposal A cap, the city fathers have figured out how to jack up the millage in other areas.

And not one penny of that money will go to schools, police or fire. In Ypsilanti, it will go to pay the debt of a failed $35 million land speculation deal that has gone sour and pay for ever lavish benefits and skyrocketing salaries for management. All the while, they are threatening to cut our bus service, and reduce staff at the police and fire department if the voters don't approve a City Income Tax.

If this money was going to core services like education, police and fire, I think most reasonable folks would support those taxes. I know I would. But when you see the shear waste and abuse of the public money and trust, then at some point we all stand up and say enough is enough.

Cheers!

Steve Pierce
Ypsilanti, Michigan

This is one of at least a dozen published columns by Mr. Lessenberry in which he advocates higher income taxes for Michigan.

He routinely implies, without ever citing any facts, statistics or rankings, that Mighigan somehow became a self-destructively low-tax state under former Governor Engler.

That assertion is untrue. Mr. Lessenberry should know better, and he probably does. But he does not admit it.

Here is a link to one representative webpage, from an organization I know nothing about, and for which I make no claims. I'd urge everyone reading Mr. Lessenberry's webpage to similarly do their own search, and post your own results.

http://www.retirementliving.com/RLtaxburdens.html

The "RetirementLiving.com" webpage suggests that Michigan is the 14th highest-taxing state in the nation. Is it a fair estimate and ranking? I don't know. Does anyone know of any serious source that indicates that Michigan is anything other than one of the top 10 or 20 highest-taxing states? Please post your information. Mr. Lessenberry won't do it for you.

Michigan has a spending problem. It is a spending problem that dates back to the time when unionized public employees sought, and in many cases got, contracts like their private-sector counterparts in the auto industry. Competition took care of the private sector labor-cost discrepancy. But sadly there isn't enough competition with public sector employment.

Michigan also has an income problem; not because Michigan doesn't demand higher taxes from its workers but because Michigan isn't working and producing up to capacity. Governor Engler and the Republicans worked to fix those problems, not make them worse. Michigan needed tort reform and got it. Michigan needs worker compensation reform, still, but will never get it from a Democrat governor and state House. Michigan needs competitive taxing structures, and progressive, productive economic thinking. Not more taxes. Michigan needs more businesses to create more jobs for all workers; not more graduates from the state colleges who then migrate to the Sun belt to find jobs.

Mr. Lessenberry wants you to believe that your state taxes are too low. Check it out for yourself. Is Michigan a "low-tax" state?

Please don’t think I do not value education. Understand that 37% of every dollar we spend in this state goes to education. Infastructure, recreation, security, revenue sharing pale by comparison. The only thing that even competes is social service.

People who are still employed have taken cuts in pay and pay higher copays on their insurance. Others have lost their jobs and some their home. Parents are watching their children leave the state to find work. All our legislator can do is feed the beast that they have created with the few dollars taxpayers have left.

I am sorry I can not agree with you. We must fix the other problems in this state first. We must bring spending under control. We have been throwing money at education and we still don’t seem to be able hit a home run. Education does not matter if there are no jobs in this state or if it travels with the educated when they leave.

Rose Bogaert, Chair
Wayne County Taxpayers Assoc., Inc.

Here. I want to add a few web references just to rub in the point that Michigan is not a low-tax state, it is a high-spending state:

This site is census data, indicating that Michigan ranks 7th among states with highest total tax collections, and 12th among states on a percapita basis:

http://www.census.gov/govs/statetax/04staxrank.html

And the earlier website I supplied appears to be data compiled by the nonpartisan Tax Foundation:

http://www.taxfoundation.org/news/show/335.html

The Wall Street Journal editorial page was taken to task by the liberal watchdog "Media Matters" over the use of Michigan's tax burden ranking in order to attack Governor Jennifer Granholm. Without taking sides on the details of the dispute, it appears that no matter how thin you slice the baloney, Michigan's state government is and always has been a top-20 taxer-and-spender:

http://mediamatters.org/items/200507150001

But for the Engler tax cuts, there can be little doubt that Michigan would be in the top handful of high-tax states in the nation. And yet that is precisely, explicitly, what Mr. Lessenberry advocates; roll back the Engler income tax cuts.

I'd like to suggest to any college student who may encounter Mr. Lessenberry in an academic setting -- ask him about these numbers. Question him, research the answers, think independently and think for yourself. I presume that is what he'd want you to do in any journalism assignment. Figure out why, if Michigan is above average in its total state tax burden on its citizens, can the state not balance its budget?

Anonymous can't write his name, but he finally gets it -- yes! Roll back the tax cuts.


Congratulations

Roll back the Engler tax cuts, he says...

...and take Michigan from about 15th to about 5th on the list of highest-taxing states in the nation.

Are we allowed to ask where all that money is going?

We can't yet end the beat-down on the Democrat campaign to raise Michigan taxes.

Yesterday, it was announced that Aernova will open a North American Engineering office in Pittsfield Township just outside Ann Arbor. Bringing 600 new jobs over the next 15 years. And amidst all of the Democrat chest-thumping over how they succeeded in bringing in all of those new jobs thanks to their faithful stewardship of the University of Michigan, let's not forget the critical element of the deal: a tax credit worth $18.5 million.

Sure, the assets of the Michigan and Eastern Michigan campuses was an attraction in this deal. That's a good thing, of course. I don't know of any conservatives who want to destroy those institutions, no matter who much they might attempt, officially or unofficially, to offend conservative principles. Republicans continue to be among the great donors to both institutions.

But if the goal is to create a vibrant and growing Michigan economy, and if high taxes defeat that purpose, even if there were some lean state-funding years in terms of support to universities from state government, isn't that just how it goes in a cyclical economy? Raise taxes, or cut spending. Clearly, cutting spending is the better option to grow an economy.

If you think its bad in Michigan, you should try living in Chicago. Corruption is rampant at every level of government, city, county and state. I'm a teacher and I love this city but I don't know how much longer I can afford to live here.

Let us hope things will change when Bush is out of office.

I had a desire to begin my own firm, however I did not have got enough amount of money to do this. Thank heaven my close mate advised to take the loan. Thence I used the car loan and realized my dream.

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