We received the following monthly column information from the office of Representative Thomas Albert.
Tax increases are not solutions
Earlier this month, Governor Whitmer revealed her 2019-20 budget proposal for the state of Michigan. The cornerstone of her plan is to skyrocket the gas tax and steeply raise taxes on small businesses. Overall, her plan would increase the state budget by $2.5 billion. Frankly, this plan is unrealistic and would have disastrous consequences for Michigan families. Fiscal responsibility means investing in vital services like K-12 education, road repairs, and public safety, but also looking at ways to make government more effective and efficient.
Fixing Our Roads
I have heard from countless residents who are deeply concerned about the governor’s proposed 45-cent increase in fuel taxes. Michigan drivers are already frustrated to be paying the highest auto insurance rates in the nation, and they should not be forced to pay the highest fuel tax as well.
Even more alarming is the fact Governor Whitmer wants to use a substantial amount of this new revenue to offset other areas of the budget. When people fill their gas tanks, they want to know those taxes are going to improve the roads they drive on, not subsidize other projects. I don’t know of anyone who wants to pay more at the pump so the state can give additional money to public universities.
In recent years, House Republicans have gone above and beyond the 2015 plan to speed up the process of fixing Michigan’s roads. About $600 million was added to road repairs in 2018 alone, all without raising taxes or fees. I want to continue this momentum and am working to find the most efficient way to pay for these much-needed infrastructure repairs across the state.
Taxing Small Businesses
If nearly tripling the fuel tax was not enough, the governor’s plan also proposed increasing small business taxes from 4.25 percent to 6 percent. The increase would target many small, family-owned businesses. This policy comes straight from the lost decade and would mean job loss for our community. Since 2010, Michigan has added nearly 500,000 private sector jobs. I will continue supporting small businesses that provide great opportunities for employment and growth.
Investing in Education
I was happy to see Governor Whitmer wants to continue the trend set by the Legislature and the last administration of increasing the amount of per-pupil funding allocated to school districts. However, I’m concerned we aren’t taking a critical look at the future of education funding.
I was especially disappointed the governor failed to address our school systems’ growing unfunded liabilities. Costs related to retirement debt will increase from $3.5 billion in 2018 to at least $5 billion by 2027.
I also believe our K-12 education budget needs an increased focus on preparing students for careers in the skilled trades. Programs promoting these careers should receive the funding they need to help build Michigan’s workforce. I am proud to have been part of past efforts to address educational budget challenges while ensuring record funding to our local schools and am committed to continuing this increased investment.
This is only the first step. I look forward to working with my colleagues and the administration to create a budget this year that works for Michigan taxpayers.