Guest Column: The Offense of Proposal 1

Why voters should be offended by Proposal 1
by Tom McMillin, Detroit Free Press guest writer, 05032015

LansingMobEditor’s Note: Time to take a journey of defensive voting to turn back the worst case where the state of Michigan would impose a $2 billion tax increase by a 46,000-WORD CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT! I understand the point of view of the nihilist-anarchists among us who “refuse to vote on moral principle” (it allegedly sanctions power the state shouldn’t have), but let’s not fall into the trap of dropping context and doing nothing when the barbarians are at the gate… AND we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to pile on and disband these looting savages in suits, sending them scurrying for cover—as a lesson to the whole world. [Think Proposition 13, California, 1978. Only more so.]  

Prop 1 has to be defeated by an enormous margin, at least 3-1, hopefully 4-1. Why? Because a) that will put an end to the establishment mob in Michigan who treat us as public property and b) it will send a message to Washington and around the world that the day of blithe arrogance of the ‘tax receiving’ class is coming to an abrupt end. Make no mistake: the crushing defeat by the ordinary ‘tax paying’ class of such a crude and outrageous act of expropriation as Proposal 1 will assert fundamental humanity and its unyielding desire for freedom. In a time when the political elites have deluded themselves that the 99% have succumbed to blind obedience and TV-junkie ignorance. The following column by Tom McMillin puts the case for voting No as succinctly and rationally as possible. Please go to the polls tomorrow and send the message of liberty.—bw   

The most offensive aspect of Proposal 1 isn’t the enormity of the tax increases proposed.

Certainly, the tax hikes are steep enough to upset voters who feel they pay enough already. The sales tax, gas tax and vehicle tax hikes combined would take an additional $2 billion every year, making Proposal 1 the largest tax increase in Michigan since the state income tax was introduced in 1967.

But it’s not the hundreds of dollars in additional taxes that voters would pay each year that inspires such bitter opposition to Proposal 1. Nor is it the hodgepodge of unrelated spending and regulations thrown into a proposal supposedly for road repair.

Voters should be deeply offended by the scare tactics employed by the forces supporting Proposal 1, telling us that anyone — even children — might be injured or killed by flying concrete any day now unless we pass these tax hikes.

Any lawmaker who sincerely believes that has a moral obligation to do everything possible to support every alternative and ensure that one way or another, roads will be funded. Neither our roads nor the people on them are anyone’s political hostages.

And anyone who sincerely believes our road conditions are a life-threatening emergency should find it outrageous that Proposal 1, according to the House Fiscal Agency, puts only $368 million to road repairs the first year, out of $2 billion in new tax money.

But what’s most offensive is not even the duplicity and hypocrisy of demanding immediate tax increases for not-so-immediate road funding.

What’s most offensive is that voters were put in this position at all.

Road repair is a basic part of any state budget, one that the other states — 46 of them with part-time legislatures — are able to manage. There’s no excuse for underfunding our roads.

Our state budget increased $4.7 billion, nearly 10%, from fiscal years 2012 to 2015. New money was there: It just wasn’t spent on roads. The result was predictable and preventable.

It was also reparable: A no-new-taxes plan passed by the House last year would have funded needed road repairs by diverting new spending increases toward roads. The plan guaranteed schools and local governments could lose no funding. (If Prop 1 is defeated, expect that plan to get a second hearing: The Legislature would be highly motivated to properly fund roads as quickly as possible.)

Yet the proposal’s backers insist with a sigh that Proposal 1 is “the best we can do.”

That’s nonsense and a cynical attempt to parlay voters’ frustration with their representatives into a taxpayer bailout.

Voters aren’t buying Prop 1 because it is absurd on its face that the people of Michigan should need to pay more in taxes than ever before just to maintain the roads we already have. We expect lawmakers to do their jobs and cover essential services like road maintenance within a given budget. If they won’t, they can be replaced.

Proposal 1 asks voters to condone and participate in the political games we loathe our representatives for playing: Passing massively complex packages of unrelated policies, to address a crisis created by their own negligence, while exploiting the crisis for a glut of new spending elsewhere.

This is a bold test of what voters will tolerate. Voters must turn out this Tuesday to reject this shakedown.

Tom McMillin is chairman of Concerned Taxpayers of Michigan and a former Republican state representative from Rochester Hills.

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