Nick Krieger (@nckrieger):
As the Michigan House of Representatives prepares to pass road-funding legislation that would raise taxes on Michigan's working poor (HB 4609, introduced by Representatives Farrington, Cole, Runestad, Inman, and Potvin), I have just a few observations.
Speaker Cotter indicated earlier this spring that he intended to find the necessary $1.2 billion for Michigan's roads through budget cuts alone, without raising any new revenue. Nice thought. But as I've written in the past, it simply can't be done. Now that the House Republicans have changed their tune and decided to raise taxes after all, they are proposing to hike taxes on low-income workers by eliminating the state's earned-income tax credit (EITC) altogether.
Directly raising taxes on the very poorest working people in our state is inhumane and unchristian. Just to be clear, individuals who receive the EITC are people who work for a living (hence the term "earned income") and pay taxes, but still cannot afford to make ends meet. And yet Speaker of the House Kevin Cotter (R-Mount Pleasant) has described this plan as "tax fairness"? Give me a break.
There are many taxes that could be increased without specifically targeting the working poor. For example, the Michigan Legislature could impose a use tax on services. Alternatively, the Legislature could adopt House Joint Resolution A or House Joint Resolution K, either of which would ask voters to amend the Michigan Constitution to implement a graduated state income tax.
To be honest, I would rather leave the roads unfixed than saddle the working poor with new taxes. New revenue should be raised fairly, spreading the tax burden across all economic strata and segments of society. We certainly should not be raising new revenue from those who can least afford to pay it. The House plan to directly raise taxes on Michigan's working poor is just plain cruel.